As most people in Pakistan know, a long winded drama being played at Islamabad has come to an end with the most amazing anti-climax moments possible. Tahir Ul Qadri, founder of the NGO “Minhaj-Ul-Quran”, led a revolutionary march from Lahore to Islamabad that in itself costed a fortune to host and brought both life and economy of the country to a virtual standstill.
It is true that blaming the economic factor completely on Tahir Ul Qadri is unfair, simply because around the same time sit-ins in support of Shias killed in Quetta had sprung up throughout the country (I was sitting in a train when sit-in on tracks began and thus ended up missing both my chance to visit Lahore as well as the Table Tennis tournament I was suppose to play to represent my institution). But at the same time it did affected businesses in and around Islamabad as the city remained hostage to Tahir Ul Qadri’s sit-in.
Mr. Qadri is well known scholar in Pakistan with activities in educational, political and religious spheres. His real claim to fame is the making and implementation of Pakistan’s infamous Blasphemy law that has taken a lot of lives including Salman Taseer. More recently, a well know political figure Sherry Rehman has also been affected by this law as petition in court has been added against her citing blasphemy.
While Mr. Qadri took full credit of the law in Pakistan, he completely dusted his hands from the case in front of international media where he cites the law incorrect and against Islamic principles. He has done that multiple times, as it apparent in the following video.
But that is not the end. He went out of the country and seeked asylum in Canada where Canadian passport was issued to him 6 months back. Recent news is that he has been called by relevant authority in Canada to explain why he went to Pakistan since he has claimed asylum based on threats to his life there. As per Canada’s rules, one cannot go back to the country from which the asylum was requested.
But for now, let us focus upon the Long March that Mr. Qadri headed. Lasting 5 days, the march started from Lahore with 100,000 people (as per Mr. Qadri’s claims), reached Islamabad and stayed there for 3 days. Mr. Qadri repeatedly claimed it was a Million March, termed it longest and greatest march in human history (both factually incorrect as longest march had taken place in China that went from one corner of the country to the other, and since there were not more than 200,000 people in the march it wasn’t greatest either). Mr. Qadri stayed in bullet and bomb proof container ALL the time while claiming to follow Hussaini example of facing evil. He kept calling all those power as Yazeed and vowed to bring down the government. He presented several demands in front of the people, including immediate dissolution of assemblies, Election Commission of Pakistan and even said that he himself is declaring the government void. He even started calling ministers, prime minister and president as ex-ministers, former prime minister and former president as if he truly believed they no longer held the posts.
After 3 days of sit-in, while he enjoyed the heated container that had all the facilities needed the people styed out in the open with freezing cold and it even rained, making the air even more chilly, he finally lost his head since government was in no mood to give him any notice. He started giving deadlines to the government, asking it to come and talk to him in order to resolve this matter.
Here are my questions:
– Why would an NGO even bother to use BILLIONS of funds for political purpose?
– Why would a person, who claimed asylum in another country citing security threats, return to create such a mess?
– Why would a person attempt to delay elections especialy when the government is about to end?
– Why would a person kept screaming “If you have bullet, I have chest. Kill me first” from behind a bullet proof glass?
– Why would a person suddenly start talking in English in much moderate style during his speech when his followers don’t understand it?
These are just some of the questions that I had along with many others I would not bother to list down. All those people he had called Yazeed while claiming himself to be Hussaini, he invited them to talk (a big irony, Hussain never talked to Yazeed nor agreed on any compromise) and when they came, they sat down in the container for 6 hours to discuss their gameplan for future.
What was the result?
– Assemblies would be dissolved ANY TIME before 16 March (the date on which assemblies were to be automatically dissolved)
– ECP will continue functioning under the same chairman
– More meetings regarding ECP will take place at Minhaj Ul Quran’s Lahore headquarters
– Qadri will have a say in appointing Caretaker Prime Minister when this government’s tenure ends
– Pre-screening of candidates for one month for elections in order to weed out the bad lot
Despite the fact that the last option is a good one (if implemented, because I don’t see that happening), the whole march became a farce with this agreement. The march that was done to overthrow the government, turned into a coalition partnership WITH the government. The whole social media was abuzz with anger and complete disappointment with the whole episode. People were already against Tahir Ul Qadri for his non-sense march, now they were practically fuming. Anyone following the hashtag #TUQ would understand the sentiments Pakistanis displayed from all-over the world.
Media also fumed visibly and journalists such as Salim Safi, Ansar Abbasi and Talat Hussain were very vocal against Tahir Ul Qadri along with balanced analysis by most seasoned anchors and journalists. I myself have felt cheated, my time wasted and the whole country made fool all over again for practically no reason at all except personal benefits.
The only beneficial point, pre-screening of candidates for elections, is nearly impossible to implement. How? The implementation would be based on certain clauses of the constitution such as the candidate must be of good character, speaks truth etc etc. How will they interpret these qualities? No politician speaks truth. No politician has good character. These clauses would remove more than 90% of politicians, including whole of MQM and PML-Q from the elections if implemented in letter and spirit. The simple purpose of this is to remove competition and a rat race during elections to prove the other party is as corrupt as hell. There will be plenty of false cases, false evidences and even armed struggles to prove the other person does not belong in politics. None will be spared (unless there is under-the-table dealing) and the whole election process could turn into a joke.
The current affairs programs have all done nothing but cover the Long March of Mr. Qadri, so much that I even had a horrible dream of Long March couple of nights back. My friends in Islamabad were stuck in their homes throughout the week and I was stuck in Karachi throughout the week all because of Mr. Qadri’s ill conceived idea of becoming a Muslim hero.
Although there is plenty for me to rant, I will withold my further views since they degrade from generally accepted level of humility. Instead I would express these feelings with the pictures posted below in the gallery that have sprung up on Social Media in response to Mr. Qadri’s adventure.