London: Blaming the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) for harbouring militants in the region, Pakistan’s Punjab province Governor Salman Taseer has said that the PML-N under the direct guidance of its leadership (Nawaz and Shahbaz Sharif) has turned province into a ‘bomb’, which is ready to explode.
Taseer charged the PML-N of ‘tolerating’ and ‘supporting’ extremists, who he said are operating ‘openly’ in the province as witnessed in the recent attacks on minority groups in the province.
“The Sharifs are creating a potential bomb here in Punjab. These (militant) groups are armed and dangerous. There is no way you can accommodate these people. There has to be zero tolerance,” The Guardian quoted Taseer, as saying.
The extent of jihadi groups’ grip on the region can be gauged from the fact that during the recent by-elections in Jhang, PML-N leaders were seen wooing the banned sectarian group Sipah-e-Sahaba.
Punjab`s Law Minister Rana Sanaullah was pictured on the campaign trail with the alleged head of the group, Ahmed Ludhianvi.
It is also believed that the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has deep links with the Sipah-e-Sahaba, which is blamed for the deaths of hundreds of Shias in the region.
Sheikh Waqas Akram, an opposition member of Parliament from Jhang, compared Punjab’s situation with that of the Swat Valley, where the Taliban had established a virtual parallel government.
“There can be 10 Swats in Punjab, if you don`t check them (extremists),” the newspaper quoted Akram, as saying.
However, Sanaullah has countered all charges against him and the PML-N, saying that though banned terror groups operate in the region, there is no such ‘Talibanisation’ of Punjab.
“There was no ‘Talibanisation’ in Punjab. Not a single street where you can say there is a no-go area,” he said.
Sanaullah denied Sipah-e-Sahaba’s involvement in any terror activities, and blamed the extremists based in the tribal areas in country’s north-west for the recent spate of violence in the province.
“95% of the people of Sipah-e-Sahaba are not terrorists. We must persuade these persons to put aside their guns, to participate in elections. They have the right to vote, so why can`t I ask them Sipah-e-Sahaba for votes?” Sanaullah said.