What the Rationale of Long March?
By Sajjad Shaukat
At this crucial juncture, when general elections are very close, the announcement of long march by Dr Muhammad Tahirul Qadri, the chief of Tehrik-e-Minhaj-ul-Quran (TMQ) and Pakistan Awami Tehrik (PAT) to Islamabad on January 14, 2013 is quite irrational.
In this regard, while addressing a massive public meeting at Minar-e-Pakistan on December 23, last year, Dr Qadri demanded postponement of general elections and formation a caretaker set-up of his choice in order to bring revolutionary changes in political and electoral system. He had given the deadline of January 10, 2013 to the federal government to fulfil his conditions. But in case of non-implementation of his terms, he has threatened to hold a rally of four million people towards Islamabad, turning the capital’s Constitution Avenue into Tahrir Square. The march will proceed from Lahore on January 13. Notably, chief of Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) Altaf Hussain who decided to participate in the long march of Tehrik-e-Minhaj-ul-Quran, and favoued the demands of Dr Tahirul Qadri , but now took “U turn and has withdrawn his support to the March. It seems that MQM has tried to divert masses’ attention from Altaf Hussain’s last night address that has not been welcomed because of his controversial remarks against founder of Pakistan.
On the other hand, the Punjab and the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa assemblies unanimously passed resolutions against Tahirul Qadri’s long march and condemned attempts to derail democratic process in the country under the pretext of bringing electoral reforms.
It is notable that leaders of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), Muslim League (Q), Awami National Party (ANP) Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (JUI-F) Tehrik-i-Insaaf Pakistan (PTI) and renowned figures have strongly denounced the long march. In their separate statements, they said that real aim of Dr Qadri’s demands through long march is to sabotage the democratic process in Pakistan, to block the forthcoming elections and to create unrest in the country. Some of them pointed out that Dr Tahirul Qadri himself want to become the prime minister of the caretaker government. Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf remarked that Tahirul Qadri should better take part in the Polls, instead of inciting the general masses for long march. Nawaz Sharif stated that his party would obstruct all efforts to derail democracy.
The All-Parties Conference organised by the Supreme Court Bar Association on January 10, which was participated by political leaders and member of civil societies also rejected the long march as unconstitutional and against democracy.
Although Federal Interior Minister Rehman Malik met MQM leader Altaf Hussain and Dr Qadri assuring security to his rally and informing him of the terror-attack on his life and procession, yet Tahirul Qadri’s intentions are suspicious as he seeks to create anarchy in Islamabad like the Tahrir Square of Egypt.
In this respect, in a threatening style, Dr Qadri repeatedly warned that both the federal and Punjab governments along with President Asif Ali Zardari would be responsible for consequences, if the governments tried to stop his long march, adding that containers were being put on the roads to block the march.
Taking cognisance of the long march and real intentions of the leader of TMQ, the rival ruling rulers of the PPP and PML-N contacted each other in an attempt to counter Dr Qadri’s threat of a long march to Islamabad. In this context, in a meeting, the ruling allies presided over by President Asif Ali Zardari on January 10 also resolved to hold forthcoming general elections in time, and vowed not to allow any attempt to thwart the polls due to long march.
While consolation has also started between the PPP and PML-N in relation to the caretaker government, and while Election Commission of Pakistan has been preparing for the upcoming polls, long march led by Qadri is quite illogical, having no justification.
Earlier, some rumours were spread by some hostile elements that Pak Army is covertly backing Dr Tahirul Qadri’s long march. But, on January 2, 2012, Director General of Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), Major General Asim Saleem Bajwa categorically denied the speculation, linking Dr Tahirul Qadri to the military establishment.
It is mentionable that it is owing to non-interference of Chief of the Army Staff Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani in politics during many crises that the present civil government completed its tenure. On the other side, some politicians have also stated that external hands are behind Qadri’s movement and his unjustified demands. So, if we analyse the rationale behind the sudden re-emergence of Dr Qadri in Pakistan including some other dimensions, it will expose his real face as some foreign powers have been assisting him to destabilise Pakistan.
In this context, sudden return of Dr Tahirul Qadri, holder of Canadian nationality to Pakistan, after seven years shows that his integrity is doubtful. While in the recent years, Pakistan has been passing through very sensitive phase, facing multiple crises like subversive activities which killed thousands of innocent people—earthquake of 2005 and floods, load shedding of electricity and gas, but Dr Qadri did not came back to his native country.
In fact, first of all, US-led Israel and some western powers have been weakening Pakistan as it is the only nuclear country in the Islamic World. For the purpose, especially American CIA, Indian RAW, Afghan intelligence-National Directorate of Security (NDS) and Israeli Mossad which have established their tentacles in Afghanistan have been sending highly motivated militants and suicide bombers along with sophisticated weapons to attack the security forces of Pakistan and to commit various forms of terror acts in Pakistan besides assisting separatist elements of Balochistan in order to obtain the secret designs of their countries. American blame game, cross-border terrorism and drone attacks are also part of the game. However, after creating political instability and economic problems and social strife by subversive acts through their affiliated militant outfits, particularly, the US thought that time is ripe to send Dr Qadri to Pakistan so as to conduct a civil war in the country.
Apparently Qadri’s so-called demands may attract the laymen, but apprehensions remain that real agenda behind his rally at Islamabad is to bring bloody revolution, which may result in the killings of innocent human beings by threatening the very sovereignty of the country. Notably, at Cairo’s Tahrir Square, several people died, which tuned into a battlefield. Besides, the revolution at the Tahrir Square was against ex-president Hosni Mubarak, a dictator who ruled over Egypt for 30 years by suppressing the fundamental rights of people. But in Pakistan, people are already enjoying fundamental rights and the benefits of democracy. And judiciary is quite free in redressing the grievances of the public, while media is also free to criticise any institute or inform the people of any controversial issue.
In this democratic phenomenon in Pakistan, Dr Tahirul Qadri’s revolutionary act by converting Islamabad Constitution Avenue into Tahrir Square of Cairo through undemocratic tactics clearly indicates that he is pursuing the guidelines of the US. He wants to conduct a bloody civil war between the military and general masses.
Surprisingly, while calling Dr Tahirul Qadri as ‘Foreign Actor’, even the spokesman of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Ihsanullah Ihsan pointed out on December 22, “Mr Qadri is working upon foreign agenda and could never be patriot.”
At present, Pakistan is facing multiple threats. In this regard, recently, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani repeatedly said that the country was passing through a very critical phase and “is pitched against an amorphous enemy, while the conventional threat has also grown manifold.” He explained that internal challenge like terrorism could be defeated through collective national efforts, and the armed forces had a pivotal role to play in harmony with other state instruments.
While in their separate speeches of November 5, 2012, both Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and Chief Justice of Pakistan, Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry expressed similar views. While realisation of forgetting mistakes of the past and to take a fresh start for the protection of the homeland, they asserted about the supremacy of the constitution, strengthening the institutions, rule of law and fundamental rights.
Moreover, Qadri could redress his grievances by approaching any court of competent jurisdiction, if he wanted reforms in the electoral system. But he directly decided a revolutionary step of long march to covert Pakistan into another Somalia so as to fulfil secret agenda of the US which is already playing double game with the country.
Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations