Qadri’s irrational demands


Who wants the elections to be postponed?

A UFO has made a landing in Pakistan at a time when everyone is preparing for elections. Qadri’s address before the mammoth gathering in Lahore left no doubt that he wanted the elections postponed till the political, economic, social and electoral systems were revolutionised on lines dictated by him irrespective of the time it takes.

Qadri’s slogan “Save state, not politics” is enough to give one a sense of déjà vu. Haven’t we seen three men on horseback mouthing similar phrases to justify the overthrow of civilian governments? Didn’t they promise to hold fair and free elections soon after holding the corrupt politicians accountable? Didn’t each one end up with setting new records of corruption during more or less decade-long extended tenures?

Many have raised questions about Qadri’s real motives. He says he is a Pakistani by birth and a Canadian by choice. Before acquiring Canadian citizenship he tried to rise in politics in Pakistan. As he had political ambitions, Qadri supported Musharraf’s referendum, got elected to the National Assembly but as Musharraf continued to ignore him, he resigned in frustration after two years. If it was kosher to accept elections under a military dispensation, why should Qadri find fault with those being held in a democratic setup under an Election Commission widely considered as neutral?

Qadri subsequently decided to leave the country to settle in Canada. Why doesn’t he take part in the politics of the country of his choice? If his concerns for the system of a country he has left are genuine, why didn’t he return earlier to campaign for his programme? With enough time at his disposal he could have revived the long defunct Pakistan Awami Tehrik and collect like-minded people to contest the elections and tried to change the system through parliamentary means.

The method he has chosen is agitation and that too when a peaceful transfer of power seems just in sight. Does he want to upset the applecart at someone’s instance? Is Qadri really speaking for himself?

The sudden appearance of Qadri creates the perception that he has suddenly received a call from somewhere. He speaks with a sense of extraordinary urgency. “Wake up and change the country before nothing is left to change,” reads a TMQ flex on rickshaws. Qadri managed to gather a big crowd, no doubt, and can gather perhaps a larger one in Islamabad. The mischief is afoot and it will not take long before people see the hidden hands behind.

There is no doubt a large reservoir of discontentment in the country. The parties that are ruling the centre and the provinces have singularly failed to address the expectations of the masses. Poverty has increased. The gulf between the richest and the poorest has widened. The government has failed to control the rise in unemployment. The smaller provinces are the main sufferers with the result that dissatisfaction is on the rise. The attacks on religious and sectarian minorities have caused disaffection among them. In Karachi, targeted killings have become the hallmark of the present government.

The common man’s rapport with the mainstream parties has consequently suffered. All the more so because even at the end of nearly five years, none seems to be responsive to his problems. The parties are mostly busy in wheeling and dealing and coalition making instead of discussing the ways and means to improve the plight of the man in the street.

Naturally, someone who can spend hundreds of millions of rupees on publicity and has set up a countrywide system of schools can get a large audience. When people start paying attention to sellers of phony panaceas, it shows the weakness of the institutions.

Who supports Qadri? Not the political parties. Nearly all of them, whether in the government or opposition, secular or religious, have turned down the demand for the postponement of elections and the suggestion to involve the army and judiciary in the interim setup. Irrespective of their differences, they are united on one point: elections on schedule.

Zardari says PPP is ready to go to the ‘court of people’ and won’t be deterred by negative propaganda by its detractors. Elections will be free and fair.

Rejecting Qadri’s suggestion to take on board army, judiciary and other stakeholders while putting in place the interim setup, Kaira has rejected any role for the army and judiciary in the process. The country’s survival, he asserts, is linked to an uninterrupted democratic system as it has been restored after numerous sacrifices. “Allama Tahir-ul-Qadri should seek the people’s support through popular public vote within the ambit of the constitution… No one can be allowed to oppose the constitution.” The minister believes that some elements are trying to create confusion as the nation prepares for general elections.

Mian Nawaz Sharif has said timely elections are inevitable for country’s stability and existence.

Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaaf chief Imran Khan considers holding of the general elections on time indispensable for stability in the country. “I am very clear on this. There is no way for Pakistan to achieve stability without timely elections.” Expressing agreement with some of the points raised by Qadri, Imran believes that the ECP has plenty of time to rectify the shortcomings in the electoral system that Qadri pointed out. But he repeats that the PTI considers a delay or postponement of the elections will jeopardise stability of Pakistan.

Asfndyar Wali has said the ANP would not tolerate any delay or postponement of general election as that would be a success for terrorists who want to sabotage the political and democratic process.

National Party President Dr Abdul Malk Baloch has opposed the postponement of elections and has warned if any attempt was made to interfere in free and fair elections then it would be impossible to bring the situation under control.

Similarly Jamaat-e-Islami’s Liaquat Baloch, MJAH’s Sajid Mir, PML-Q’s Kamil Ali Agha have all strongly opposed the postponement of elections.

The media in general has shown no sympathy for the demand to postpone the polls while a section has been highly critical of the stand taken by the TMQ leader.

What about the Supreme Court which has emerged as a major player after the restoration of independent judiciary?

The SC has all along supported timely elections and has given deadlines to the ECP to fulfil the necessary requirements like preparation of electoral roles, verifying the voters lists and delimitation of constituencies in Karachi. This shows the apex court’s keenness to see the elections held on time.

Despite Qadri’s suggestion of involving judiciary in the process of interim setup, there is little likelihood of the SC agreeing to the postponement of the elections.

And the army? Keeping in view the law and order situation in the country and the need felt by army of political support to effectively deal with the militants, there is little likelihood of the army getting itself involved in a bitter controversy with the political parties. The destabilisation caused by the resulting strife would be too much for the system. But then things are not always done in this country in accordance with the demands of rationality. With John the Baptist already here, can Messiah be far behind?

The writer is a former academic and a political analyst.


  1. Dr Qadri is in favour of holding elections within time after carrying out massive reforms in the electoral process.

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