After dragging its feet for days, Pakistan government on Thursday accepted a key demand of Tahir-ul- Qadri by agreeing to register a murder case against 21 people, including Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, for their alleged role in the clashes that killed 14 supporters of the cleric.
The Lahore Sessions Court hearing the case related to the clashes in Lahore’s Model Town area on June 17 had ordered
police to register a murder case earlier this month against 21 persons named by the Qadri-led Pakistan Awami Tahreek (PAT) in its complaint.
Pakistani police, however, refused to register the murder case against Prime Minister Sharif, his brother and Punjab
province Chief Minister Shahbaz and some top Cabinet ministers despite the court order on framing of charges. Federal minister Saad Rafique told reporters today that all the 21 people will be part of the FIR (First Information Report) as demanded by Qadri.
“Now his main demand has been accepted and he should, for God’s sake, call of protests,” Rafique said. Qadri’s PAT has named them in the murder of 14 people who were killed in clashes with the police on June 17 in Lahore, just a few days ahead of his arrival from Canada.
The court had ordered the registration of a murder case against Sharif, his brother Shahbaz, his nephew Hamza Shahbaz,
Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar, Defence Minister Khawaja Asif, Railways Minister Rafique, Information Minister Pervaiz
Rashid, State Minister Abid Sher Ali (also a relative of the Sharif), Punjab former law minister Rana Sanaullah and top
police officers who took part in the “barricades removal operation”.
Qadri has also demanded that after the registration of the case, both Sharif brothers should resign. Rafique said the resignation will come only if anyone is found guilty and convicted. The decision to launch the FIR came hours before Qadri’s expected “unspecified” announcements today, which he declared as ‘Revolution Day’, to force the government to accept the demands.
The announcement to register murder cases is the first major concession by the government and a sign of its increasing vulnerability to the threats by Qadri and Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan, who is protesting against alleged rigging of last year’s general election.
Political stalemate has continued for the last two weeks with Khan-led PTI and Qadri’s PAT refusing to budge from their
demand of the Prime Minister’s resignation. The protesters have been sitting in front of the Parliament House and the Supreme Court building since August 19, demanding Sharif’s resignation.