A day after a key government ally lent its full support to the planned “million-man” march of Dr Tahirul Qadri, the founder of Minhaj-ul-Quran International (MQI), another ally asked the influential cleric to review a deadline he set for the government to introduce sweeping electoral reforms.
The Muttahida Qaumi Movement, a key partner in the ruling coalition, said on Sunday that thousands of its workers would attend the long march scheduled for January 14 in Islamabad.
But a high-level delegation of the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q), led by its President Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, met Dr Qadri at his residence in Lahore and asked him to review his January 10 deadline for the government, sources said.
They offered Dr Qadri to engage in talks with the government to discuss his proposed electoral reforms. They added that the Pakistan Peoples Party’s leadership will also meet Dr Qadri before his deadline to reiterate the government’s request, according to sources.
Dr Qadri is said to have told the PML-Q leadership that he would review the deadline after his visit to Karachi today (Tuesday), where he will meet the MQM leadership.
Later speaking at a joint news conference with the PML-Q leadership, Dr Qadri said the Chaudrys of Gujrat congratulated him on his “successful show” on December 23.
Chaudhry Shujaat expressed support for Dr Qadri’s mission, saying he stood against those who evaded taxes and looted the public exchequer. He maintained the PML-Q would follow anyone who stood against injustice.
Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi took the opportunity to lash out at rival Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and its thumping victory in the recent Punjab by-elections.
He accused the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) of handing over postal ballot papers to PML-N candidates three weeks before the election. Elahi maintained that he had challenged the results of the elections, but the ECP took no step in this regard.
Talking about Dr Qadri’s proposed election reforms, he said they would strengthen democracy in the country. He added that if the ECP took action against rigging, there would be no need for Dr Qadri’s long march.
On the other hand, Interior Minister Rehman Malik said on Monday that the government would facilitate anyone who wanted to stage a long march. He was speaking to the media in Islamabad.
Referring to the MQM’s support for Dr Qadri’s long march, Malik said the MQM was free to make an alliance with any political party. (With additional reporting by our correspondent in Islamabad)
Published in The Express Tribune, January 1st, 2013.
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