ISLAMABAD: All entry and exit points to the Aabpara Chowk in Islamabad were blocked for traffic for almost an hour on Sunday afternoon due to a rally organised by a religious party.
A few dozen supporters of the Minhajul Quran (MuQ) gathered at the chowk and staged a brief rally as part of a welcoming campaign for their leader, Maulana Tahirul Qadri.
Qadri is set to return to Pakistan from Canada, where he has lived for several years now, next week. He is scheduled to address a gathering at the Minar-e-Pakistan in Lahore on December 23.
The rally was organised by the Islamabad and Rawalpindi chapters of MuQ. The procession for the rally, comprising of two dozen cars and as many motorcycles, left from Rawal Town around 10am. It reached Aabpara around 3:30pm after touring through Bhara Kahu.
Speakers, using a public announcement system at the back of a pickup truck, said a peaceful mass movement must be launched to resolve the country’s governance issues and political crises.
Taseer Ali, an MuQ supporter, who works at a public relations firm in Islamabad, said he was attracted to the party by its slogan: “Save the state, not its politics.” He said he would participate in the Lahore gathering next Sunday along with several others from Islamabad.
Raja Aslam, another rally participant from Rawal Town, said the MuQ believes elections under the existing “system of political corruption” will not bring any good.
“The system needs to be changed before expecting anything from the elections,” Aslam said.
The rally took place under a minimum police presence and the participants disbanded peacefully around 4:30pm.
Perhaps due to low traffic on Sunday, motorists at the Aabpara market did not seem troubled by the road closings. Business at the market also remained unaffected.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 17th, 2012.