NationalVOLUME 14 ISSUE # 23

The Punjab can of worms

The arrogance displayed by the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) hierarchy was indeed shocking after the downfall of a key player in the Punjab, Rana Sanaullah, who flouted the strict and dangerous codes surrounding the narcotics trade.

It seems that former Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah worked his way up through the echelons of the PML-N till he became a confidant of the Sharifs and an important player in the party. He soon developed and spread his influence throughout the province. It was noticed that with his increasing power, various sleazy parts of the government came under his sphere of influence. Gambling and narcotics were also allegedly under his supervision; all these illegal activities are the most lucrative and most sought after by people, like Rana Sanaullah.

PML-N Punjab President Rana Sanaullah was arrested by the Anti-Narcotics Force (ANF) while he was traveling from Faisalabad to Lahore. The senior PML-N lawmaker was arrested from the Islamabad-Lahore Motorway near the Sukheki area. Over 15kg drugs were recovered from his car. However, PML-N President Shahbaz Sharif condemned the arrest and said that Sanaullah had been arrested without any allegation and case against him. He termed the arrest the worst example of “lawlessness and political revenge.” More arrests are expected in the case in coming days. The police have also arrested PML-N Faisalabad President Sheikh Ijaz and some police officers in connection with the case. An investigation is also underway against two parliamentarians from Faisalabad. It is alleged many legislators are involved in narcotics smuggling and a foreign country had tipped-off Pakistan about the racket.

Earlier, Rana Sanaullah was also accused of being the mastermind of the Model Town incident, in which at least 14 people were killed and over 100 injured by the police in 2014. It is alleged that he had directed the police to launch an operation against the Model Town protesters despite opposition by the then Home Secretary Azam Suleman’s. The aggrieved party, Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) of Dr Tahirul Qadri, also accused Rana Sanaullah of having links with members of banned organizations.

This type of person is very useful to the leadership, because he has to be the most effective when entrusted with the job of keeping the criminal elements productive and disciplined. These crimes are invariably linked to harsh conditions of obedience. Leniency is not tolerated, and the nature of the crime is such that kindness is considered a weakness. The criminals only recognize strong measures and so Rana Sanaullah learnt these procedures and succeeded at every stage, growing more powerful and more adept at manipulating the law while deriving the most benefit. A child pornography ring was exposed in Kasur, much to the shock of the people of the country, but it saw no prosecution. Instead, the charges were swept under the carpet, never to be heard off again. This was achieved by the adroit handling of the most powerful man in the Punjab, Rana Sanaullah.

The same Rana Sanaullah can be held responsible for the stoppage of international cricket in Pakistan after gunmen attacked a bus carrying the Sri Lankan team. The gunmen walked through the streets of Lahore shooting indiscriminately. So casual was their walk that it seemed that they had the guarantee of no retaliation. The killers proceeded to their motorbike in a very leisurely manner and drove away without a fear, as if it was a Sunday drive with the family. The police hierarchy and the home department of the Punjab seemed unconcerned and subsequently not interested in any investigation. The matter is still in the open files of the Punjab. It is still a blot on the Punjab police. It also indicates that the then PML-N Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif had a different yardstick for their behavior. They chose to turn a blind eye and let such a brutal attack on a foreign team with no fear of horrific consequences for it. It maligned the image of the country in the whole world. The Pakistani people were deprived of cricket for over 10 years. People say it was a deliberate act orchestrated by the Punjab government headed at that time by none other than Rana Sanaullah.

These and other crimes will surely mark the Sharifs as rulers to be best forgotten. Surely, the cricket match shootout and the subsequent non-investigation and the child porno ring of Kasur, also vanished without any investigation. It was rumored that high officials of the PML-N were involved in the cover-up. Certainly, the provincial members of the PML-N successfully suppressed the matter. All these matters were handled by Rana Sanaullah.

His success has been the successful non-investigation of the crimes. Surely, it is a black mark on the face of the Punjab police. This is indeed unfortunate because once a proud police department, which controlled feared dacoits of the Punjab, allowed robbers to run over the province freely.