The recent national backlash against his statement on Taliban should be an eye-opener for Shahbaz Sharif, who really ought to be above such rightwing pandering. Not long ago, I saw him speak in person on his vision of Punjab and I wonder how this statement gels with his vision for Punjab. Does he want Punjab to be labelled a pro-taliban, pro-terrorist hub? What is more is that by asking the Taliban to spare Punjab, Shahbaz Sharif has inadvertently stabbed all the Pakistanis fighting a dire battle against the Taliban from Khyber to Karachi. He has also strengthened those who accuse PML-N and the Punjab of fostering pro-fundamentalist tendencies.
ISLAMABAD: Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif came in for some sharp attacks in the National Assembly on Monday in a backlash over his appeal to Taliban to spare his province from terror attacks because of a shared stance with his PML-N party against former president Pervez Musharraf.
Two of three members from both the opposition and ruling coalition who spoke against his Sunday’s remarks in a speech in Lahore called for an apology from Mr Sharif, who is also the PML-N president, for negating a national consensus against terrorism and justifying Taliban attacks in other provinces.
His son Hamza Shahbaz Sharif came out with an oratorical rejoinder, citing what he called PML-N’s national outlook ranging from helping terrorism victims in Malakand division of the North West Frontier province last year to its role in campaigns for an independent judiciary and against the controversial Mushaarraf-era 17th Amendment of the constitution, but did not touch his father’s controversial remarks at a seminar two days after two Taliban-claimed suicide attacks in Lahore killed at least 50 people and wounded about 150.
The exchanges came amid speculations in the parliamentary house that the chief minister’s speech could figure in his meeting with Chief of the Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kiyani later in the evening and follow charges from some critics that the party’s provincial government was protecting members of some banned sectarian groups.
Mr Shahbaz Sharif said in his speech: “General Musharraf planned a bloodbath of innocent Muslims at the behest of others only to prolong his rule, but we in the PML-N opposed his policies and rejected dictation from abroad, and if the Taliban are also fighting for the same cause then they should not carry out acts of terror in (PML-N-ruled) Punjab.” PML-Q’s NWFP president Amir Muqam raised the issue in the house through a point of order as he called for admission of an adjournment motion he had submitted on the Punjab chief minister’s speech, which he said had come as a shock and created a confusion about the anti-terrorism struggle in which people and troops from all provinces were making sacrifices.
“It is not the question of only Punjab and he (Shahbaz Sharif) should apologise from the whole nation,” said Mr Muqam, whose move was immediately supported by Minister of State for Ports and Shipping Nabil Ahmad Gabol, who said other provinces were feeling insecure, and later by a PPP member from the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, Syed Akhonzada Chitan, who also demanded an apology.
Mr Hamza Sharif used the occasion to complain about a perceived delay in the repeal of the 17th Amendment, prompting s brief response from Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Babar Awan who said the all-party parliamentary committee on constitutional reforms was meeting regularly and had completed most of its job.
The committee’s report is expected to come before the current session, which completed the present assembly’s second parliamentary year with Monday’s sitting but will make a rare overlap the next parliamentary year and possibly continue until the government comes with the promised 18th constitution amendment bill planned to repeal the 17th Amendment and restore a genuine parliamentary system in the country.
PML-Quaid-e-Azam MPA Nighat Orakzai presented him her Dupatta to cover himself with if he is so afraid of the Taliban.
Nighat Orakzai offers dupatta to Shahbaz Sharif
Daily Times Monitor
LAHORE: Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) Member of Provincial Assembly (MPA) Nighat Orakzai on Monday removed her ‘dupatta’ and threw it on the floor during the NWFP Assembly session on Monday, asking the Punjab chief minister (CM) to wear it, in protest against a statement given by him in which he asked the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) to “spare the province of Punjab from its terrorist activities”.
According to a private TV channel, the PML-Q MPA said that if Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif is so scared of the Taliban, then he should starting wearing a ‘dupatta’. She said the Punjab CM’s statement had revealed that he was only concerned for the safety of his province, and called it a “betrayal” of those killed in terrorist activities in the NWFP.
Speaking at a seminar held at the Jamia Naeemia Mosque on March 14 (Sunday), the Punjab CM had said, “Gen (r) Pervez Musharraf planned a bloodbath of innocent Muslims at the behest of others only to prolong his term in office, but we, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz opposed the former president’s policies and rejected the dictation being received from abroad. If the Taliban are also fighting for the same cause, then they should not carry out acts of terror in the province of Punjab [where the PML-N is the ruling party].”
However, later defending his statement, the Punjab CM said that his remarks were ‘misinterpreted’ and taken out of context. He said that he has always spoken in support of all victims of terrorist activities, especially the people of the NWFP who are bearing the brunt of the majority of terrorist attacks in the country.
Governor Salman Taseer tore into Shahbaz Sharif . Nation reports:
Punjab Governor Salman Taseer on Monday lambasted Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif over his Sunday’s statement in which the CM had appealed to Taliban to spare Punjab because this province had always been against foreign aggression like them.
Talking to the media after attending the convocation of a private university here, Taseer said that Punjab Chief Minister’s statement gave the impression as if Taliban and the PML-N were like brothers and it was because of this relationship that Shahbaz asked them to spare Punjab from their attacks.
He said he was surprised over the statement as he had never heard anything like that before.
‘During the by-elections when they sought support of Sipah-e-Sahaba then I asked Punjab CM which message he wanted to give to the people of Punjab by doing so. I also asked him to say it openly if he wanted to support the organisations involved in spreading sectarianism, and now he (Shahbaz Sharif ) has given his stance on the issue so openly’, Taseer told reporters.
Governor said that Quaid-e-Azam would be turning in his grave over Shahbaz Sharif’s statement. He said he was ashamed of hearing such a thing from Shahbaz Sharif, which was tantamount to saying that spare the Punjabis and do whatever they liked with the people of Sindh, Balochistan and NWFP.
‘On the one hand, entire nation including Pakistan Army and the civilians are fighting against Taliban and laying their lives. The PM and the President have also openly challenged these anti-human elements, and pledging to fight against them till last along with Pakistan Army. On the other hand, you in Punjab have surrendered before them saying, please don’t lay hand on us’, Taseer remarked.
He said Punjab was the biggest stakeholder in the country.
‘We are first Pakistanis, and then Punjabis’, he stressed.
He said all previous agreements made with Taliban proved a futile effort, as they only used these to get themselves reorganised and re-launch attack on the people and the Pakistan Army.
He said Government signed an agreement with Sufi Muhammad in Swat, but he gained time only to attack the Army again.
He said that Shahbaz Sharif’assertion that his party was against the foreign policy of the US, was mind-boggling for him.
‘Let somebody make me understand who rushed to the US at the time of Kargil episode to see the then US President Bill Clinton and to request him to save us’, Taseer asked, adding, that it was strange to see that now they were bragging of following an independent foreign policy.