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Why Minhaj ul Quran has become the victim of civilian dictatorship

June 17, 2014, I was enjoying a wonderful discussion about Interfaith Dialogue at the House of Lords. A gentleman sitting next to me showed me on his iphone various disturbing images of Police baton-charging and shelling the workers of Minhaj ul Quran. I couldn’t believe my eyes that such a fascist brutality could be adopted by an elected democratic government against its civilians. My body juddered while seeing the bleeding face of an elderly women and shredded clothesof innocent minors.

It is not understandable that at a very crucial time when the country’s security is on high alert, why Punjab government found it more significant to use the Police force to dismantle the barriers outside the Dr Qadri’s residence that also serves as secretariat of Minhaj-ul-Quran International. The barriers which were installed for the security of the building.The unprovoked attack resulted in death of seven people including two women and 80 others getting injured. It is very clear from the incident that the authoritarian regime of Sharif brothers is using violence for the repression of political dissent. Despite of all the National crises, Sharifs has not yet given up their habit of king-like capricious (often dictatorial) decision-making.The government is using Punjab Police as ‘king’s army’ to control the possible uprising of the peasants. The Kings of JatiUmra are that generous and rewarding that as reported by a TV Channel, two poor constables has recently been dismissed from service for allegedly plucking guava from JatiUmra farmhouse of the prime minister’s private residence.

It appears that under the government of Shahbaz Sharif the Punjab province has virtually become a police state. Various incidents have revealed that in Punjab, police force has continuously been used to harass and insult political rivals. An endless campaign of lodging false FIRs against political opponents has also been initiated. Use of brutal police force and baton-charge has become a routine.

Punjab Law Minister, Rana Sana Ullah has further ridiculed the situation by stating that  the police action was inevitable as they were reports of militiamen taking oath for working on an unidentified operation and that ‘private militia had made it a no go area and no one in Punjab is allowed to do so’. Probably Rana Sana has never visited the no go areas of JatiUmra. The acquitted minister must also not know that Elite Force, a vigorous police wing established to carry out special operations against the cynical criminals has become merely a protocol unit for Sharif family. As reported by the Nation, there are more than 5,700 personnel of the Punjab elite force out of which above 4,000 policemen are deployed to provide security to the influential persons and their families including Sharifs.

When Sharifs assumed offices about a year ago, they had everything for a stable government; a decisive majority, a clear mandate, and above all, their huge electoral slogans. They also enjoyed the support of the media and the superior judiciary. But to the disappointment of ordinary citizens of Pakistan, they kept all of Zardari’s policies going. Nawaz Sharif’s rule so far has been nothing but a continuation of the corrupt and capitalist policies by his predecessors. In these circumstances government feel threatened when Dr Qadri suggests that ‘political corruption had been named as democracy, adding that the system of government was based on violation of the Constitution and electoral system was the biggest enemy of the state and society’.

One can also not ignore that both the Sharifs have a history of deal making with extremists. Both the brothers, used to say very little against the Taliban, condemning instead “America’s wars” in the region. This policy bought encouragement to Taliban. Mr Sharif wasted a lot of time on talks with the terrorists but failed to persuade Taliban to murder less in return for concessions. Due to compromising attitude of PML-N’s leadership and their mild will to fight against the menace of terrorism the members of law enforcement agencies were completely demoralised. However, Pakistan Army’s appropriate move of launching operation Zarb-i- Azab commendably finished the Nawaz’s policy of negotiating peace with militants. It appears from model town massacre acts of barbarism that government wants to penalise Minhaj ul Quran for its outright support to Pakistan Army.

In a democratic system, the political leadership is expected to synchronise between the expectations and demands of its support groups and the groups that oppose its leadership. The task of the leadership is to establish a framework on the basis of which uniform and credible principles of political game may evolve. However, Sharifs’ experience reveals a two-fold dilemma. First, a growing disharmony amongst the federal cabinet, secondly Sharifs’ authoritarian policies and practices. On the one hand Sharifs claim to struggle and sacrifice for restoration of democracy. They have promised to build constitutionalism, promote democracy, uphold rule of law and, yet, their own conduct and behaviour portrays an equally strong indulgence towards autocratic tendencies. This considerably can damage the sustainability of democracy in Pakistan.


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