PESHAWAR: The Tehreek-e-Minhajul Quran (TMQ) has failed to muster the support expected from Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) for Tahirul Qadri’s long march.
The TMQ’s political wing, Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT), had earlier asked the provincial leadership to mobilise 0.5 million people from the province and its adjacent tribal areas.
TMQ and PAT had particularly appealed to the clerics to urge their followers to participate in the march scheduled to reach Islamabad today (Monday). However, other than Pir Manki Sharif, Maulana Abdus Subhan, Pir Ashiq Hussain, Pir Yar Hussain and Pir Sabir Shah of Nasarpur, which according to the PAT have assured them their support, none of the influential clerics in K-P have announced their backing for Qadri’s march.
Looking at the limited influence of the party, it is expected that the number of participants from the province and the tribal areas may not even cross four digits even though activists had placed billboards and posters in major cities across the province.
PAT Provincial President Khalid Durrani claimed their activists are receiving threats from the government, which is stopping people from joining the march. “Government representatives in the media are spreading rumours that a terrorist attack might take place on caravans.”
Participants began their journey from K-P to the federal capital on Saturday, said provincial president of Qaumi Aman Council (QAC) Pir Syed Sajjad Bacha, who recently resigned from the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz to support Qadri.
“We are travelling in small groups because the government may restrict the entry of a large number of people into the federal capital.”
One of the reasons behind sending participants in smaller groups was to avert any possible terrorist attack on the caravan, said Durrani who alleged that the government was also threatening transporters from renting their vehicles for the ‘million man’ march.
Urban Transport Union President Khan Zaman Afridi, however, denied the allegations saying they had refused to give their vehicles because PAT activists did not assure their safety.
Women wing’s protest
Nearly 30 women activists participated in the demonstration held by TMQ women’s wing leader Rubina Moin. Addressing the activists, Moin said the government is afraid of the long march and is creating hurdles for those participating. She claimed that from K-P, 20,000 women will participate.
Political parties seminar
Representative of various political parties and civil society activists opposed the long march in a seminar arranged on Sunday and said a real revolution can only be brought in the country through democracy.
The seminar was organised by the Pashtun Awareness Movement under the title ‘democracy and stable Pakistan’ at the Peshawar Press Club. Participants appreciated the decision of major political parties in the country to not support the march.
Jamiat Ulama-e-Islam-Fazl provincial spokesperson Abdul Jalil Jan, Pakistan Peoples Party provincial leader Ayub Shah, Jamaat-e-Islami provincial general secretary Shabir Ahmad Khan, Qaumi Watan Party leader Usman Khalil and Pakistan Muslim League Progressive leader Muazzam Butt also participated in the seminar.
The participants said that some ‘non-political’ forces are trying to take advantage of the current violence to derail the democratic process.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 14th, 2013.