The unfortunate aftermaths of the tragic incident, that left 08 deceased ,almost 80 injured including 40 injured of bullet-wounds, continue to held the nation and the government fixated in the fermented stage. Not only is the political imbroglio bulging, the repercussions of the violent clashes that erupted yesterday, between PAT(Pakistani Awami Tehrik) supporters and the police ,have stirred up the nation’s sentiments, in a high time when the government was seeking national consensus and support against the newly launched operation in North Waziristan.
Government functionaries have continually been expressing Tahir-ul-Qadri’s ulterior motives as aimed towards destabilizing the country, disrupting the democratic and constitutional norms, garnering the public support to proclaim himself as ” Amir-ul-Momineen” (Chief of Believers) ,and finally carrying out the conspired nefarious agendas of the International rivals of Pakistan.They also perceive of the current incident ,as assisting Tahr-ul-Qadri in garnering public sympathies, as well as in toppling the democratic set up in the country.
However, the deployment of the large contingent of 1000 police personnel ,against the reportedly unarmed supporters and sympathizers of PAT ,unmasked the hidden motives of the Punjab Government, that claimed to have sent the police to overthrow the barriers, outside Qadri’s residence, to facilitate the commuters. One of the motive as speculated by the neutral observers, apparent from the violent incident, was to suppress the rebellious propaganda of Tahir-ul-Qadri and PAT, levelled against the government, as well as to scatter and frighten the sympathizers from organizing against the state machinery. Many term it as “arresting the rising popularity of him”. Secondly ,it might have been an indication signal for Tahir-ul-Qadri ,refraining him from arriving in Pakistan, as scheduled.
But, the events that culminated an apparently trivial beginning into the wide-scale gloomy termination, need closer inspection. Police authorities claim that the protesters were pelting stones and bricks on policemen, countering which the police employed use of a tear-gas. The authorities also added, that policemen resorted to aerial firing, to disperse the agitated mob, as well as a retaliatory move against the armed gunmen, laden with arms and ammunitions .Contrary to these statements of the officials, no media channel revealed in live-coverage of the incident, gunmen provoking or backfiring the police personnel. At the same time, police authorities have expressed their condolences to the affected families and are prepared to probe into the matter, as well as ,are ready to punish those against whom responsibility would be ascertained by the Judicial Commission. The Chief Minister Punjab, Shahbaz Sharif, has declared that he would step-down, if Commission finds him guilty.
The question then arises as to whether the shooting down action of the Punjab police was a spur-of-the-moment action by the forces present on the scene, or was it carried out after taking the higher-ups into confidence?? Secondly, why the police resorted to this extreme measure, when there aren’t any heavy casualties, reported on the police side ???Another plausible explanation could be the presence of the third-element, or invisible perpetrators that were trying to fish into the troubled waters.
Amidst all these hoo-hah, the notion of democracy is being frequently talked about .Commencing with the Green Revolution, that Tahir-ul-Qadri wants to bring ,as the proverbial cleansing of the Augean stables ,is looked upon as the setup that is at odds with the current democratic setup. Similarly, he is criticized for instigating the masses to rebel against the government ,as well as in diverting the government’s attention from the myriad of important national issues. At the other end of the spectrum, PAT sympathizers and many among the public ,are terming the highhandedness of Punjab Police as even worser than the dictatorship ,and the entire move of the provincial government, as suppressing the “freedom of expression” ,and therefore ‘undemocratic.’
Some analysts consider this move of the government as an amateurish one, that is antithetical to the political maturity and experience they trumpeted, before the elections of 2013.To them, the government made a hero out of a political non-entity (Qadri) .The deployment of 1000 policemen to control an unarmed protest ,was an over-kill, and the unashamed display of the professional integrity of police proved to be the last nail in the coffin. Some also opine that the government is walking on a thin ice, by the virtue of reckless measures, as adopted in this case, and is therefore adding to the threats confronting the democracy. The formation of Grand Alliance, as hyped in the media in the recent past, is probable to come into shape, in the aftermaths of this incident. This grand alliance might add huge momentum to the anti-government campaign.
The national polity, too, like other segments of the society, has expressed sorrow and strong condemnation of the acts of brutality, demonstrated ,on the previous day. Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaaf(PTI) chief, Imran Khan ,demands resignation of the Chief minister, Law minister ,and Inspector General of Police over the shameless act of the police. Many of the notable PTI leaders are appearing in the wide-scale protests, held by PAT, all over the country. Opposition parties staged walkout from National Assembly as well as provincial assemblies, over the high-handedness of the government. Chaudhary Pervez Elahi, of PML-Q ,has coined the name ‘Punjab’s Narendera Modi” for CM Punjab, Shahbaz Sharif. Mautihidda Quomi Movement (MQM) had formerly declared the observance of the day of national mourning ,and conveyed their grievous concerns over the incident. Sunni Tehreek also announced a day of mourning while declaring the skirmish in Lahore as a dictatorship. Pakistan People’s party (PPP) has also voiced its strong condemnation. However,the opposition leader (NA), Khursheed Shah considers this incident as a conspiracy move against the premiere, Nawaz Sharif. To him, issue must be resolved through the dialogue.
Tahir-ul-Qadri, PTA chief, demands the removal of the government of PML(N) as a Qisas for the brutal massacre of the innocent ones. He tweeted :”I believe in peace, but if they shed blood, the public will not be in my control. Government is gripped by fear of my arrival, and it’s a blatant move to harass PTA supporters and workers. Qadri has also nominated the Prime Minister, Chief Minister Punjab, Khawja Saad Riffique,Chaudhary Nisar and Rana Sana Ullah ,in launching an FIR against the state functionaries. However,the FIR is still pending to be registered.
Moreover, in a “strange display of sympathy” for the victims at Model Town, the Punjab government lodged a first information report (FIR) against PAT workers over the incident. The FIR has been lodged in Faisal Town Police Station with the State being the complainant in the case. Office bearers of PAT, and unidentified people have been nominated in the FIR filed on charges of Anti-Terrorist Act, interference in state affairs and creating chaos. Meanwhile, the police also claimed to have recovered weapons from the possession of PAT workers who clashed with law-enforcers.
The disastrous ramification of this on-going tug-of-war between the proponents and opponents of the government, the national consensus has begun to evaporate and much needed public confidence, in context of garnering nation’s support for the Zarb-e-Azb operation, has begun to shake. Alongwith this, the claims of PTA’s chief members, that prominent government officials patronize the banned outfits like Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, as well as engage in dialogue with the state-enemies, TTP, and assume a hostile posture towards peaceful protesters of PAT, has stirred too many controversies.
The prompt, impartial, transparent and just investigations ,followed-by due enforcement of the punishments to the ones proven guilty of, is the need of the hour. Government should demonstrate political maturity in a democratically desired manner. Most importantly ,our country cannot afford more tumultuousness and unrest of the kind having grave implications in terms of disuniting the social fabric, especially when where we are already in a state of war !