ISLAMABAD: Since the past couple of weeks, the entire country has been abuzz with news of Long March to Islamabad. This march is being led to the capital by none other than Allama Tahiru Qadri, a Pakistani scholar of international acclaim.
Announcement of the long march was made by Mr Qadri during his momentous address to a mammoth gathering of people at the Minar-e-Pakistan on December 23, 2012. Since his address, the Maulana seems to have become a household name in Pakistan. The reason for this is none other than the fact that whatever Mr Qadri has been talking about and demanding from those in power relates to the greater public good.
Undoubtedly, the nation is quite perturbed and to some extent also excited about this new development. Excruciatingly painful circumstances compel them to believe that Mr Qadri is perhaps, the messiah they have been waiting for all these years to resolve all their problems and liberate them from the clutches of the unjust rulers, who have ruled this country for over six decades. While people are excited, those at the citadel of power and those aspiring to be in power seem to be extremely anxious. They all agree on at least one point: that whatever Mr Qadri is talking about and demanding is what is urgently required to be done. They do not, however, believe that he is sincere in bringing about the change that he has been so vociferously asserting at all his recent speeches and press conferences.
These political groups also have doubts about Mr Qadri’s abilities to govern this country and blame him for playing with the emotions of the people through his use of rhetoric. Yet, another element that seems to be seriously tormenting the politicians of this country is the fear that Mr Qadri has, perhaps, come with a foreign agenda to derail democracy in Pakistan and pave the way for the non-democratic forces to grab power.
Whatever Mr Qadri’s detractors may say about him, the fact remains that he is talking about bringing true democracy to Pakistan, giving the people of this country the right to basic amenities of life; education, health, food, shelter and employment as enshrined in the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, implementing all the clauses of the Constitution of Pakistan in letter and in spirit, empowering the masses to elect the right people to parliament, and empowering the chief election commissioner and the Election Commission of Pakistan to conduct free and fair elections.
Can anyone deny that all that Mr Qadri is saying is what has never been done, in tangible terms, before and needs to be done urgently? Can anyone also deny that true progress and prosperity of this nation and this country largely depend on implementing the measures that he is demanding be enacted? The appropriate thing to do at this critical juncture for like-minded and sincere elements belonging to all political groups, is to join hands and take the country and the people out of the quagmire they are at present in.
The journey may be long and arduous but for the sake of this country and this nation, it will have to be undertaken no matter what it takes.
M Fazal Elahi
Published in The Express Tribune, January 14th, 2013.