Qadri’s involvement in Pakistan’s politics
What Tahirul Qadri is out to perform is no ordinary feat. He wants the ECP to be replaced by a new body at a time when it is busy making preparations for the elections that are due within months. The elections are important because they would lead to a timely and peaceful transfer of power to the next elected government for the first time in Pakistan. Qadri’s untimely intervention has revived the memories of past conspiracies against democracy. What has strengthened the apprehensions is his shady past and his unexpected appearance on political stage. The cleric had no compunction to contest elections in 2002 under a rubberstamp EC set up by Musharraf to produce the results of his choice. Instead of struggling against the military ruler, he resigned from the NA in 2005, made a beeline for Canada the moment he was called to take the oath of loyalty needed for citizenship for which he had applied in 1999.
The 20th amendment was passed in early 2012 and the members of the election commission appointed soon after. If Qadri genuinely believed that they had been chosen in violation of the constitution, he should have returned to the country immediately after to get what he calls a breach of the 20th amendment rectified. Instead he stayed abroad till December 2012. In January, he suddenly demanded widespread changes in the political and economic system, including the replacement of the ECP. While militant extremists try to impose their ideas on society through force of weapons, Qadri sought to do the same through the pressure of the mob. The extremist stand was bound to raise widespread apprehensions. It was natural to ask on whose behalf he was acting. When the judiciary continued to oppose the postponement of elections and the army disowned Qadri’s activities, it was suggested by some that perhaps some foreign power was behind him.
The ECP is a constitutional body and the first independent election commission in the history of Pakistan. The man who has questioned its legality is a foreign citizen who has shown little concern for the country of his birth. By his own account, he travelled to Pakistan no more than three times a year. By offering to make the SC an unconstitutional consultee in the appointment of the ECP and the caretaker setup, he has tried to compromise the position of the apex court. Before approaching the SC he announced a series of rallies in support of his unconstitutional demands to put pressure on the court, leading many to believe that Qadri is a man with questionable motives.