Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) has warned the government of serious consequences if it tries to arrest or harass its party chief, Allama Tahirul Qadri, who is due in Pakistan on June 23.
Local media is rife with speculation about government’s plan to arrest PAT leader, who plans to launch an anti-government movement on his return from Canada next week.
Issuing a strongly worded warning, spokesperson for the party, Umar Ayaz Abbasi, said that any action against the workers and party chief on his arrival will be ‘suicidal’ for the government.
“We have several options in case the government resorts to any adventurism”, he stated.
Highlighting the party’s strategy, he said “Right after Eid, PAT and likeminded political groups will launch a street protest against the government.”
The spokesperson said that his party was not seeking any security from the Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N) led administration for its leader.
“Since we don’t accept the legitimacy of this government we will not seek security from it,” a defiant Abbasi said.
While addressing the media, PAT spokesperson denied allegations of financial irregularities in Minhajul Quran International (MQI), a welfare organisation run by Qadri. Dispelling media reports, he described the corruption allegations as part of a ‘’meaningless game’’ against his party chief.
Despite the political rancor, Information Minister Pervaiz Rashid said that the government had no intention to arrest the PAT leader.
However, the minister said that Qadri must be held accountable for allegations of massive financial impropriety that plague the welfare organization he heads.
Talking to The Express Tribune, the information minister said, “Qadri will be held answerable for Rs1.5 billion he spent on the media publicity campaign during his last visit.”
The minister accused Qadri of paying Rs32,00 in taxes while he spent an exuberant amount on the advertising campaign during his ‘container movement’ that converged on the capital last year.
Rashid said that spending funds collected in the name of charity on political activates is illegal. “Government will not arrest him, but like Musharraf he will have to face the charges.” he stated.
Meanwhile, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) stalwart, Syed Khursheed Shah also cautioned the government of serious repercussions if it plans to arrest PAT chief. He said that the government will be dislodged within six months if it commits such a mistake.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 16th, 2014.