How Many Parties Were There?

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The All Parties Conference (APC) or it was also called Multi Parties Conference (MPC) convened by religious scholar turned part-time politician Dr Tahirul Qadri, who keeps shuttling between Pakistan and Canada, turned out to be somewhat flop and disappointing show in more than one way contrary to the expectations of the participating leaders.

The opposition parties moot was participated by how many political parties remains a big question. It was reported that as many as 40 parties were represented there whereas the number was just around a dozen or so. These included both major and minor and new political parties.

Even the demands made through the joint declaration and the press conference were self-contradictory and confusing.

The moot on the one hand demanded resignation of Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Provincial Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Rana Sanaullah for their alleged involvement in the killing of 14 persons in Model Town tragedy in 2014 on the basis of they being indirectly pointed in Justice Baqar Najafi inquiry report in the incident and gave the deadline of seven days till January 7, 2018 for the compliance.

On the other hand, the Chief Justice of Pakistan was requested to take sou moto notice of the incident and order fresh inquiry by a Joint Investigation Team (JIT) under the supervision of a judge of the Supreme Court. His demand seems to be quite weak as the case itself is still pending in a court and Justice Baqar Najafi inquiry report has also been made public on the orders of the superior court.

If this demand is taken into account, then the organisers should not have demanded resignation of the Punjab CM and the Provincial Law Minister. Rather they should wait for any response from the CJP of their request for taking sou moto notice.

A look at the participating political and religious parties and their level of representation in the APC is also enough to indicate that Dr Tahirul Qadri and his PAT have not been able to gain political benefit or any other objective from the gathering apparently.

There were not 40 parties as reported in the media but just thirteen and those who are known and represented in the national and provincial legislatures, irrespective of the numerical strength, can easily be counted on fingers.

The known parties present in the moot were Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaaf (PTI) , Pakistan Muslim League (QA), Mutahedda Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) which have representation in the National and Provincial Assemblies. PTI is leading coalition government in KP even. These parties obviously have interest in making more political gains and about the others it can easily be said that they are not so keen for electoral politics and rather on the look out for short cuts in the political field.

PPP Co-Chairman and former President Asif Ali Zardari, PTI Chairman Imran Khan, PML (QA) President Ch Shujat Hussain as well as Amir Jamaat –i-Islami Senator Sirajul Haq also had held meetings with Dr Tahirul Qadri and extended full cooperation and support in getting justice to the bereaved families of those killed in the incident but they did not take the trouble of attending the APC themselves and instead had sent their second-tier leadership. As such, Imran Khan and Asif Ali Zardari have kept their distances from each other as both of them have their owns views and ideas about the forth coming general elections in 2018.

In the absence of Ch Shujat Hussain, Asif Ali Zardari, Imran Khan, Sirajul Haq and only presence of their second tier leaders, the APC as such has not made as much impact as Dr Tahirul Qadri would have expected.

Sh Rashid Ahmad and Amjad Dasti were chiefs of their own parties and present in the APC which was attended by number of parties which could be described as paper tigers.

Dr Tahirul Qadri apparently had more reliance on PPP and PTI but their leadership were wise enough not to go beyond certain limits and even all other participating parties wished PAT to take a plunge itself and afterwards they can draw some benefits from the aftermath. As a matter of fact, Dr Tahirul Qadri himself is not likely to gain anything out of it.

The Joint Declaration adopted by the APC has also urged the National Assembly, the Senate and Provincial Assemblies to adopt resolutions at their respective forums demanding resignation of the Punjab Chief Minister and the Law Minister. But in reality this hardly makes any sense if the compositions of the federal and provincial legislatures are looked upon.

This may be done in the Senate where opposition is in majority somehow and also possible in Sindh and KP Assembly where PPP and PTI are in majority. On the other hand, if such resolutions are moved in the NA and Provincial Assemblies of Punjab and Balochistan, these will outrightly be rejected as PML(N) and allies enjoy majority in these national and provincial legislatures.

Although the APC was convened in the name of seeking justice for 14 persons killed in Model Town Lahore incident in 2014 but the organizers and PAT had thought it advisable to draw a line and not to invite at all ruling party PML(N) and its allies Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazal (JUI-F) and Awami National Party (ANP) .

The fact that MQM-P delegation led by its chief Dr Farooq Sattar had disagreed with the demand for resignation of the Punjab CM and Provincial Law Minister and staged a walk out from the proceedings has somehow been not taken due notice by many.

The APC before dispersing formed a Steering Committee to decide about line of action in case CM and Law minister do not resign within the set deadline. The Steering Committee comprising representatives of all parties present may decide about holding a joint public meeting or resorting to dharna (sit-in) then PPP and PTI are likely to come closer to each other with remote chances also of Asif Zardari and Imran Khan seated on one stage. As a matter of record, the focus of the APC which had become apparent from inaugural speech Dr Tahirul Qadri was more against the Sharif family mainly former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif and their politics rather than Model Town tragedy for which the APC was convened as such.

It is a matter of regret as well that there was no word about Pakistan or democratic system. Sit-ins staged by PTI and PAT though started on the same day from Lahore in August 2014 had immensely harmed the national economy as well as democracy and because of the tension caused by the dharna, the Chinese President had also postponed his visit to Pakistan during which multi-billion dollars China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) was to be formally launched. People will certainly not want and like that situation like should be created again and economic growth pace be halted somewhat. All political and religion parties and their leaders should better differentiate between the State and the government. Opposition in any manner to the State amounts to treason and against the government established under the Constitution within boundaries of laws is tolerable to the extent this remains within certain limits.

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How many parties were there?
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