Lahore (August 8, 2017): Awami Muslim League (AML) chief Sheikh Rashid in an incendiary speech to a gathering in Lahore on Tuesday alleged that Nawaz Sharif’s GT Road procession was an attempt by the ousted prime minister to seek a National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) from the army.
The gathering of various political party leaders at Nasir Bagh, including the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s (PTI) Chaudhry Sarwar and Shah Mahmood Qureshi, and Pakistan Awami Tehreek leader Tahirul Qadri, comes a day before Nawaz’s two-day long planned procession from Islamabad to his hometown of Lahore.
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The ‘historic’ rally is believed to be an attempt by the PML-N to garner much-needed political mileage in the face of the challenges the government is facing. Nawaz denies the procession is “a protest”, instead terming it “a journey back home” that he is undertaking because “risks need to be taken for the country”.
Rashid, in his speech, alleged, “Nawaz Sharif is asking the army for an NRO, for a way out, so that his references are not tried.”
“The procession and rally are being held for one reason only ─ that they should be granted an NRO,” he asserted.The NRO was a controversial ordinance promulgated by former president Pervez Musharraf which granted amnesty to politicians, political workers and bureaucrats accused of corruption, embezzlement, money launder, murder and terrorism between 1986 and 1999.
“To let them off scot-free, to give them a way out,” he added. “Whoever gives Nawaz Sharif a way out, whoever lets him off easy, whoever prevents him from being presented to institutions, the entire nation will stand before him,” he thundered.
He asked his audience: “You will stand before them, won’t you?”
“If even a poor man’s son dies on GT Road, an FIR will be lodged against you, Nawaz and Shahbaz, for bringing the people out there,” he warned.Last year, in the run-up to the PTI’s planned Nov 2 ‘lockdown’ of Islamabad, the party blamed the PML-N government for the suspected deaths of PTI workers who, when called to protest by the PTI, were subjected to teargas shelling in Swabi by law enforcement officials attempting to control the crowd.
At the time, allegations were raised that the PTI’s claims of workers’ deaths during the protest were a ruse by the party to build pressure on the government and maintain momentum for its ‘lockdown’, with a PTI official later clarifying to Dawn.com that the situation had been ‘misread’.
“My last challenge is for Shahid Khaqan Abbasi,” Rashid said. “If I can’t prove that you cut the most expensive LNG deal in the world, then I will leave Pakistani politics forever.”