Following Thursday’s “political drone strike” by Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) chief Altaf Hussain and promises of participating in Dr Tahirul Qadri’s long march at all costs, the party on Friday dropped another shocker by excusing from participating in the march on the capital, citing security risks.
Shocked but undeterred, Dr Qadri said he would lead the march on Islamabad per schedule at all costs and there should be no illusion in this regard.
Addressing a press conference late at night with Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid President Shujaat Hussain and Pervez Elahi, Qadri said he had forwarded his charter of demands to the PML-Q leadership and the participants of the march would not budge from Islamabad until the demands are met.
On Thursday night, President Asif Zardari had tasked Shujaat with contacting Dr Qadri and try and make him withdraw his call of long march.
Shujaat told reporters he was hopeful of a positive outcome of the prevailing quagmire.
Addressing a news conference in Karachi earlier in the day, MQM Deputy Convener Dr Farooq Sattar said the party leadership had decided to separate itself from the long march, however, it would continue to support Dr Qadri’s ideology.
He said that the decision was taken in the backdrop of the deteriorating security situation in the country and it was dangerous to put the lives of millions of people at stake.
Sattar said the MQM had conveyed its decision, which had been endorsed by party chief Altaf Hussain, to Dr Qadri.
Altaf Hussain had earlier vowed to take active part in the long march, but the decision was apparently withdrawn after the deadly blasts in Quetta and Swat that killed close to 116 people.
Sattar said terrorists were out to sabotage the long march and the march faced immense security threats.
“Besides, Dr Qadri will unveil the ways in which the long march is being hampered,” Sattar added.
Dr Qadri said earlier in the day that he would lead the march on Islamabad per schedule at all costs and there should be no illusion in this regard.
Affirming his resolve to carry on with the march, he said the incumbent government had lost legal, moral, and constitutional authority to rule after Thursday’s carnage that killed 116 people.
“Wrong policies of the government caused corruption and terrorism,” Qadri said, making it clear that rulers who failed to halt terrorism were either ineligible or aides to terrorists.
The TMQ chief said no one in the country was safe, be it Muslims, Hindus, Christians or anyone else.
Qadri praised the judiciary for dismissing writ petitions against his march and declaring the march legal.
“The courts declared the long march lawful, democratic and according to the fundamental rights provided by the constitution of Pakistan. I would request the local and foreign media to highlight the news of judiciary rejecting these writ petitions,” he added.
He took exception to the Punjab government’s measures to create hurdles in the way of his long march, saying the administration was directing the transporters to return advance money that they received to transport the participants of the march to Islamabad.
Qadri said the Punjab government was using various tactics in order to put stumbling blocks in the way of his rally.
“The media, the wretched of the earth and a majority of poor people will stand by me in the struggle of restoration for peace and eradication of corruption from the country,” he said.
Without naming the Interior Minister Rehman Malik, Qadri said the government was disfiguring the facts in the name of politics by levelling bogus allegations on TMQ workers.
The TMQ chief said if any attack was carried out on the long march, President Asif Ali Zardari, Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf, Interior Minister Rehman Malik, PML-N President Nawaz Sharif, Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif and Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah would be held responsible.