- What Punjab government must do
After bending over backwards to keep Justice Najafi’s report from public view, and failing, the Punjab government is doing itself no favours by disputing it’s the meaning of its contents. With calls for resignations of both Shahbaz Sharif and Rana Sanaullah snowballing, PML-N bigwigs will need more than a flat rejection of the report to walk away clean from this. Certainly they do not need reminding that this episode has come at a very delicate time for the party; even though that is primarily because of their own needless delaying tactics.
With elections around the corner, and the legal noose tightening around the Sharif family, the last thing PML-N needs is to mishandle the damning report and invite another dharna. The report did not put it in black and white, but there’s enough there to connect the dots without much trouble, as Justice Najafi noted in his concluding remarks. Also, the refusal of Punjab police to cooperate – even name who ordered the firing – shows that very serious, high-level pressure has been applied to withhold crucial information. If the government has nothing to hide, as it repeatedly claims, they why did it try to hide the contents of the report all these years and, more importantly, why did it not ensure complete police compliance with the tribunal?
If Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif does not, very urgently, deal with this matter in a transparent manner, he will have only himself to blame for the tidal wave of opposition coming his government’s way. Already PAT is ready to raise a storm, PTI has submitted a resolution for Rana Sanaullah’s resignation in the Punjab Assembly and parties across the spectrum are calling for heads to roll. To settle the matter once and for all, the government must immediately appoint an independent body to review the report, collect more evidence (and point out officials that do not cooperate), and unmask the real culprits responsible for the killings. Anything less and the government might not be able to wriggle well enough to avoid the axe this time.