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Long march declaration averted bloodshed, strengthened democracy: Shujaat

23 January, 2013

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LAHORE: Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) President Ch Shujaat Hussain has said that the Islamabad Declaration averted bloodshed and strengthened democracy.

Addressing a press conference at his residence on Wednesday, Shujaat said that to gain political mileage some people wanted failure of negotiations with Tahirul Qadri, but there would have been bloodshed worst than that in Lal Masjid operation. He noted that the participants of the sit-in were only at five minutes distance from the Parliament House, and if Qadri had asked them to take over parliament, then those criticising the Islamabad Declaration today would not have been safe even in their own homes.

The PML-Q chief said that in order to stop an operation against the participants of the sit-in, he had even tabled the option of withdrawing from the government. All signatories of the declaration are its guarantors and a mechanism for its implementation will be evolved in the meeting on January 27, he said. Shujaat argued that the declaration would prove to be a milestone for free, fair and transparent elections in the country, adding that the president, the prime minister and Qadri deserved appreciation for saving the country from a major mishap through their understanding and wisdom.

Shujaat said that the entire nation was fully aware that different political and non-political personalities were expecting the negotiations to fail. He disclosed that an operation had started on January 15, and Interior Minister Rehman Malik telephoned him on January 16, saying that Qadri has somehow escaped and they are going to launch an operation to disperse the demonstrators. The PML-Q chief said he told the minister that if the cleric has left then there is no need for any action and the people would leave themselves.

Shujaat said that he was receiving confirmed reports that preparations were underway for the operation on January 15. "I talked to the prime minister and then to President Asif Ali Zardari in Karachi. I told the president that replay of Lal Masjid operation is going to happen," he added. He said that around midnight he telephoned the prime minister and asked him to directly order the administration to not carry out an operation, irrespective of what the circumstances are.

In response to questions from reporters, PML-Q leader Mushahid Hussain Sayed said that the declaration had not only improved image of Pakistan abroad but also set a good tradition in the political culture. "This is victory for democracy, and political leadership of the country deserve appreciation for displaying better sense, understanding and wisdom," he said.

End.

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