Some really terrible statements have come out of the PML-N leadership in recent weeks, but this one by Shahbaz Sharif really wins the prize:
Gen 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 Punjab (where the PML-N is ruling),” he said at a seminar held here on Sunday to commemorate the services of late Mufti Muhammad Hussain Naeemi.
That being said, he does raise an interesting point – why would Punjabi militants choose this point in time to attack Lahore when the PML-N government has been publicly reaching out to to the Sipah-e-Sahaba leadership; assisting in the removal of several Ahle Sunnat wal Jamaat members from the fourth schedule, etc? It’s possible that the Sipah-e-Sahaba leadership that is getting closer to PML-N (Ahmed Ludhianvi) doesn’t have much control over more hardline elements of the “Punjabi Taliban” like Lashkar-e-Jhangvi. [It’s been suggested the the recent round of bombings in Lahore have been to avenge the death of Qari Zafar the leader of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi by a US drone strike.]
We know that the recent round of attacks in Lahore comes at a time when the PML-N has once again started speaking out against Musharraf and military involvement in politics in general. Just in March there have been unusually harsh anti-military/Musharraf statements by Nawaz Sharif and now Shahbaz Sharif and his son.. Hamza Sharif re-iterated the PML-N’s request to bring Musharraf back to Pakistan to face trial under article 6 which they’ve been silent about since October 2009 (reportedly under Saudi pressure). At the same time PML-N has also made itself virtually unassailable by its support of the judiciary during the NRO and judicial appointments crises. The question is – is the military establishment getting a little nervous about PML-N’s position of strength? Looked at this way, PML-N’s recent decision to renew ties with Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat leadership actually makes sense politically on a larger scale than just Jhang politics – the more powerbrokers that PML-N makes friends with (the Supreme Court, the Lahore High Court, Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat), the more difficult it would be for the military to disrupt any future set-ups if and when the PML-N comes to power in the centre.