Gen Mirza Aslam Beg
Thursday, January 17, 2013 – No, this is not going to happen, the way Dr Qadri wants, nor his ‘dharna’ on Quaid-i-Azam Avenue, is going to be the “Tipping Point”, as some analysts have opined. In fact Dr Qadri, now is on the back foot and would soon be booted-out. The government has, so far treated him with political decency but no more. In fact, Rahman Malik has put Dr Qadri under siege, behind a tight security cordon, restricting his space for maneuver. Dr Qadri landed in Pakistan with one point agenda — ‘Restrain Nawaz Sharif.’ He held a mammoth gathering at Lahore and it was there that he lost his bearing.
Dr Qadri’s agenda in 1999 was “Hatao Nawaz Sharif”. He was then part of the Grand Democratic Alliance, led by PPP, ANP, MQM and Imran Khan. They succeeded in installing General Musharraf and waited to be rewarded. He supported Musharraf through the referendum and the elections 2002, and was expecting a big reward for the services rendered, but got only a seat in the National Assembly. Out of frustration, he left the country and acquired the citizenship of Canada. For over seven years he preached and propagated “the concept of liberal and political Islam” and gained acceptability by the West, and returned to Pakistan, armed with a mission: “Get the elections postponed and restrain Nawaz Sharif, coming to power” because he was not considered a friend of USA as Washington Times then lamented after the 2008 elections, when Zardari formed the government:
“Washington’s Pakistan kibitzers will soon rue the day, they squeezed President Pervez Musharraf to restore democracy. “Democracy” is what has now emerged, or an unholy alliance of long-time America haters. Acting as behind-the-scenes catalyst are the prominent America-haters. The new behind-the-scene godfather of this broad-based, anti-US coalition is Nawaz Sharif, chief of the Pakistan Muslim League. This also puts Kiyani in a quandary, Musharraf has handed over his military powers, along with a Rubik’s Cube.”
The response, which Dr Qadri received at Lahore on 23 December 2012 turned his head and he lost his bearing. He fell like humpty dumpty, breaking into parts: One. His demands were genuine, but to say that the cleansing must be done within five weeks of all the ills and ailments of the last five decades, was ridiculous, unless he were “to call the angels to perform the tasks.” He also didn’t spell-out the mechanism for this mundane task. Two. As his march started on 13h January, forIslamabad, he had a new brain-wave to demand dissolution of the Election Commission which sounded the alarm bells inIslamabad. Three. On reaching Islamabad on night 14th/15th January, he demanded dissolution of the Assembly, termination of government and take-over by peoples parliament by 11 AM, otherwise he will storm and take over the government (As I write these lines he has crossed the barrier and is addressing the public opposite the Assembly Building).
Four. Because of lack of response and the restricted space, he has not been able to muster more than 25-25000 persons, mostly his Minhajul Quran School students and teachers, thus shattering the myth of “the critical mass” of millions of the Tehreer Square of Egypt. Five. Some political parties and persons, initially supported him, but have kept a distance from him now. Only Musharraf’s All Pakistan Muslim League and Sheikh Rashid, seem to be betting on him. He is isolated.
Six. Dr Qadri has lost the support of the PPP government, who soon may decide to deport him and put a ban on the movement. The judiciary has warned him not to interfere with the ongoing process of elections. The Army stands by its promise to uphold the Constitution, which embodies the will of the people. The media by and large has rejected his buffoonery. Seven. Dr Qadri’s unbridled ambitions and his unconstitutional demands have caused his self-destruct within a short period of a few days, whereas Tehreer Square Revolution needed a larger time span of weeks for the materialization of its aim, and remained firm and constant throughout the period of the struggle.
However, “Dr Qadri’s surge” has left a strong message for the political parties in power and those who are likely to form the next government that “the burden of change now falls on their shoulders.” The change must come through a very conscious and deliberate reckoning of the failings and weaknesses of the democratic order and the means and methods to bring about the change.
Tahirul Qadri seems to be at the wrong end of history, in his demand to “save the country and not politics”. Pakistan came into being as a result of the political movement launched by Quaid-i-Azam. In 1971, Pakistan used the military power to correct the political split, but failed. Now there is no other option, than to follow the path, the nation has set for itself i.e., fair and free elections, on schedule, so that the new democratic order takes its corrective course to remove the scars of the present order. As for Dr Qadri and his likes, they must remember the words of Allah: “They consider themselves the greatest in the earth and maneuver evil schemes. And the evil schemes encompass only the schemers.” (Surah Fatir)
—The writer is former Chief of Army Staff.