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Thursday Dec 07 2017

Model Town report: Zardari, Tahirul Qadri demand Shehbaz Sharif’s resignation


LAHORE: Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari and Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) Chief Tahirul Qadri on Thursday demanded Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif's resignation in the wake of the Model Town inquiry report.

The Punjab government, at the behest of the Lahore High Court, made the report for the Model Town incident public on December 5. The report was drafted by Justice Baqir Najfi and termed the 2014 tragedy in Lahore's Model Town as the "most unfortunate incident" in the country's history.

“Enough is enough! Nawaz Sharif’s brother Shehbaz must resign. After this report, he stands condemned, and a condemned man cannot remain the chief minister of the largest province of Pakistan,” Zardari told reporters at a press conference alongside Qadri in Lahore.

The joint press conference came after the former president met the PAT chief during his first-ever visit to the Minhajul Quran Secretariat.

The two sides held a meeting, wherein Khurram Nawaz Gandapur, Manzoor Watto and Qamar Zaman Kaira were also present.

Speaking at the press conference, Qadri said the Model Town inquiry report clearly indicated Shehbaz Sharif as a "murderer."

"The barriers [around Minhajul Quran Secretariat] were lawful and no one had objected to them for three years. The force which was sent used unlawful means. They were there to drop bodies and not remove barriers," he said of the incident which took place on June 17, 2014.

The incident had claimed lives of at least 14 people and left over 100 others injured during an 'anti-encroachment operation' by Punjab Police outside Idara Minhajul Quran in Lahore's Model Town.

The PAT chief alleged the entire operation had been conducted under the supervision of Rana Sanaullah.

"People, who say the report is not conclusive, are lying," he said, adding that anyone who reads the report prepared by the Justice Baqir Najfi commission will know who was responsible for the Model Town tragedy.

"Rana Sanaullah should step down and surrender himself to law," he demanded.

"We will take steps, within the ambit of the law and the Constitution, to bring those responsible for Model Town incident to justice," Qadri announced.

Taking his turn, Asif Ali Zardari said, “We came here today to express our solidarity with Allama sahib. Now we will not tolerate Shehbaz; we will fight and take to the streets with him [Qadri].”

He said the democracy is not the way Nawaz and Shehbaz are running it, clarifying, “We are only talking about fighting against them (Sharif brothers).”

The PPP co-chairman said only political forces can handle the financial burden placed on Pakistan by Sharif brothers.

“We stand with Qadri on his principled stance,” he reaffirmed. “We have no qualms about joining political forces with him (Qadri).”

He further said that every prospect, every position could be looked into for pressuring the government to bow down to their demands.

“If Qadri asks, I will be with him [in his container],” he added.

'Police tried to cover up who gave orders to shoot'

Justice Baqir Najfi commission inquiry report said that police tried to cover up the facts regarding who gave orders to open fire on protesters, according to the commission report released Tuesday.

The report added that no legal opinion was sought from the Punjab advocate general prior to the start of the operation.

The commission also stated that on the ground, the standoff continued the whole night, resulting in minor injuries to police constables as well as PAT workers.

It was after 9am that the DIG Operation arrived at the site, who called the SPs of different divisions of Lahore, and a result the policemen started increasing in response to the swelling up of the PAT activists.

The commission observed in its report: "The level of cooperation in digging out the truth is that no police official from top to bottom, whether actively participated in the operation or not, did utter a single word about the person under whose command the police resorted to firing upon the PAT workers."

Further, in its conclusion, the commission said, "It is shocking to note that everyone has deliberately but unsuccessfully tried to cover each other from possibly adverse legal effects."


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