While the Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) is busy finalising arrangements for its ‘Martyrs Day’ scheduled for August 10, the Lahore police on Wednesday registered a case against its chief Dr Tahirul Qadri on charges of inciting people to violence, waging war against the state and promoting terrorism.
The Data Darbar police registered FIR No. 304/14 on the complaint of Muhammad Khursheed, a resident of Mohni Road, Lahore. The FIR was lodged under Sections 506 and 121 of the Pakistan Penal Code and Section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act. Section 506 involves criminal intimidation and Section 121 is related to waging or attempting to wage war or abetting waging war against the state.
The complainant stated that he watched Dr Qadri’s August 3 speech on the television and his sentiments were badly hurt. Dr Qadri incited the public to revolt against the government and tried to intimidate the government by warning it of dire consequences if his demands were not met, the complainant stated.
According to the complainant, Dr Qadri asked his followers to prepare a list of police officers involved in the killing of PAT activists. The PAT chief also asked his followers to attack the law enforcers and kill 15 policemen in revenge for the killing of 15 PAT workers on June 17 at the Minhajul Quran Secretariat in Model Town, he added. “This amounts to promoting terrorism,” he contended.
Khursheed requested the police review Dr Qadri’s speech in which he allegedly incited people to violence against the police. He feared the PAT workers would resort to violence as a result of their leader’s speech. He requested the police to take appropriate action against Dr Qadri before any untoward incident happens.
Angered by the move, Dr Qadri said the police have readily registered a case against him on the complaint of an ‘unknown person’, while the families of those killed in the Model Town tragedy were still waiting for the registration of their FIRs.
“The government picked up my speech for scrutiny after it failed to find any evidence of money laundering against me,” Dr Qadri said.
“There are major flaws in Pakistan’s laws that discriminate between the rulers and the common man,” he said. He reiterated that a revolution was the most pressing need of the hour as national institutions have been rendered ineffective in Pakistan.
Meanwhile, a large number of PAT workers staged a protest outside the residence of Dr Qadri in Model Town and chanted slogans against the government and police. They said it was an attempt by the government to pressure Dr Qadri into giving up his ‘revolution march’ plans. They, however, made it clear that such intimidation would not shake their resolve or dampen their spirits.
Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari rang up the PAT chief and condemned the registration of the FIR against him.
“The former president said that the PPP has never supported political victimisation and it will not allow anyone to victimise political opponents nor permit registration of cases against political leaderships,” PPP spokesperson Senator Farhatullah Barbar quoted Zardari as telling Dr Qadri.
According to Senator Babar, the PPP co-chairman, who has contacted key politicians over the last few days, also discussed the overall political situation. Zardari told Dr Qadri that “throughout the PPP’s five-year tenure there was not a single political prisoner nor any case registered against any political leader and that’s what we call democracy.”
The two leaders agreed that democracy should continue for the betterment of the nation, Senator Babar said in a statement.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 7th, 2014.