A political logjam

Shah’s speech sounded more like a peace offer which government has ignored so far at, what seems to be, its own peril.

M Ziauddin September 16, 2014
A political logjam

On June 16, 2014, Dr Tahirul Qadri of Minhajul Quran was known in and outside Pakistan as an Islamic scholar and leader of an international Islamic education movement. His political profile, despite being head of a political party, the Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT), was rather indistinct. At best he was remembered until then and that too mostly by the media for staging a sit-in at the D-Chowk in Islmabad with at least 5,000 of his followers — men, women, young, old and children — braving the bitter cold of January 2013, protesting against what he described as undemocratic, un-Islamic and exploitative system the ruling elite had perpetuated in the country. He ended the sit-in after four days and returned to Canada after having signed with the then government of President Asif Ali Zardari an agreement containing some vague promises of reform.

But on June 17, the Lahore Model Town clash between his supporters and the police which were trying to remove some harmless and legally sanctioned barriers located in front of Minhaj offices in which 14 protestors were killed and more than 80 injured suddenly made at least the people of Lahore sit up and take a closer look at him; next he aroused a lot of concerned national and regional interest in his person when the plane bringing him back from Canada on June 23 was diverted, without a cogent reason , from Islamabad to Lahore.

And when this was followed by a complete closure of Model Town for almost a week by putting up containers on all its entry and exit points to deny Qadri and his followers an opportunity to observe Youm-e-Shuhada in memory of those killed in the June 17 police action the good doctor was seemingly catapulted into a national political personality; finally, his cause became almost a national cause when the police kept refusing, until court orders, to register the Minhaj’s FIR against the perpetrators of the Model Town tragedy.

None of the above mentioned four stages seem to have been initiated by Dr Qadri himself or his supporters. Staunch loyalists of the PML-N would like to believe that some hidden hand had instigated these avoidable developments. Some of them perhaps, would like even to consign these four steps to inadvertent blunders of the provincial administration. But some seasoned pundits felt that there was some kind of method in this administrative ‘madness’.

These pundits ask, why a matter that could have been easily sorted out to the entire satisfaction of Dr Qadri in Lahore itself was allowed to fester longer than necessary. And they further ask, when Imran and Qadri arrived in Islamabad with their respective followers in good numbers, why were they provided places in close proximity to Red Zone to stage their sit-ins and then allowed, without any let or hindrance, to reach the Red Zone avoiding the diplomatic enclave by yards.

These pundits insist that without traversing those four steps Qadri would not have found himself propelled in terms of political stature on a par with Imran Khan, a man of immense charisma, a national leader, Cricket World Cup winner, architect of Shaukat Khanum Hospital, founder of Namal college and head of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), which had polled the second-largest number of votes in the 2013 elections. And this artificially enhanced political stature, they insist, had allowed Qadri to take the lead from the very word go.

From August 14 onwards, as the script unfolded seemingly written by some staunch Imran-hater, it was Qadri who was leading the Kaptaan all the way to where he is stuck today. Qadri reached Islamabad ahead of Imran. He entered the forbidden Red Zone first. Next, he forced a seemingly reluctant Imran to follow him as he rushed to besiege the PM house. He left Imran no choice but to follow him when he and his followers violated the sanctity of the parliament’s precincts. Even the PTV invasion was seemingly allegedly led by the PAT with the PTI workers following seemingly without knowing what they were doing. Indeed, Shah Mehmood Qureshi in his speech in the joint session the other day had squarely blamed the PAT for all the transgressions in the Red Zone. Also, Shah’s speech sounded more like a peace offer which the government has ignored so far at, what seems to be, its own peril.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 17th, 2014.

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Ranjha | 9 years ago | Reply

Lakson Tobacco will have to pay taxes, no matter what "balanced" views you pretend to express!

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