So Dr Allama Tahirul Qadri has quit politics — not for the first time though. He had done so in November 2004 as well. Then, he had resigned midway through his tenure as MNA during the times of military ruler Pervez Musharraf. While he cited Musharraf’s counterterrorism policy as the reason for his resignation, he also expressed his loss of faith in Pakistan’s politics to bring change in the country for the betterment of the masses. Qadri, also a renowned religious scholar, then moved to Canada to pursue his preaching activities under his Minhajul Quran International — a non-profit organisation that spans many parts of the world and provides educational, religious and cultural services.
It was not until December 2012 that Qadri — all of a sudden — found his long lost faith in politics as an agent of socio-economic change. He returned to Pakistan “to rid the state of the corrupt political elite” by leading a movement against the government which was then led by President Asif Ali Zardari of the PPP. Thousands of supporters of the firebrand cleric staged a sit-in in the federal capital demanding the dissolution of parliament followed by the formation of a caretaker government in consultation with the military and judiciary to implement key reforms like a new election commission and ban on corrupt candidates. The movement, however, failed and Qadri went back to Canada — only to return to Pakistan about two years later with the same political narrative and the same goal of toppling an elected government. His opponent this time was, however, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. The movement met the same fate, even though it was bolstered by Imran Khan who was rather there in the lead.
Qadri is revered as a distinguished Muslim scholar of international repute who has written hundreds of books in Urdu, English and Arabic and enjoys massive following the world over. However, his political pursuits remain questionable. In particular, his sudden return to Pakistani politics — in 2012 and 2014 — and his vain attempts to bring down the government continue to draw criticism.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 17th, 2019.
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