Tag Archives: Tahirul Qadri

Imran, Qadri in venomous outburst against police

By Irfan Haider

ISLAMABAD: On the second day of a purported crackdown against protesters of both the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) and Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT), both Imran Khan and Dr Tahirul Qadri decried the role of police and told them to “get your act together or face the consequences”.

Dr Tahirul Qadri, in an impassioned outburst, challenged the police to come after him. “Let them come to arrest me and we will see what happens. My protest will be the death of their regime, it’s just a matter of days,” he declared from atop his container on Constitution Avenue.

Know more: Only criminals being targeted, not political parties: Nisar

In his own outburst, Mr Khan called out the Islamabad police chief, saying, “I will not spare you Tahir Alam, when I become prime minister of Pakistan.”

Read more » DAWN
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Siege of Islamabad: what next?

By Pervez Hoodbhoy

THOUSANDS of fanatical followers, led by the cleric-cricketer combination of Tahirul Qadri and Imran Khan, hold Islamabad hostage. A year ago such a possibility seemed remote. What of the future? In the years ahead, this pair may become irrelevant.

But with the dangerous precedent they have established, hard-line clerics disaffected with the army’s betrayal, and operations such as Zarb-i-Azb, may give the call to occupy. The marching orders could also come from Caliph Abu-Bakr al-Baghdadi of ISIS or some other radical leader; their literature is already being circulated around. Thereafter, from the hundreds of madressahs in and around the city, charged mobs armed to the teeth will pour out to fulfil their holy duty. Nuclear Pakistan would have the world sitting on edge.

Speculation? Perhaps, but not without cause. Islamabad’s vulnerability now stands twice exposed. The first time was in 2007 when the Lal Masjid clerics went on a rampage, declared rebellion against the state, and imposed their brand of Sharia on Islamabad. It took the lives of a dozen Pakistan Army commandos to defeat them. Hundreds, including children, died. More significantly, it began a new era of suicide attacks on marketplaces, public squares, police stations, and army installations. Since the time, around 30,000 lives have been lost.

People have wisely refused to support the violent destruction of the government.

Back to the present: the Khan-Qadri duo has brought a new level of instability to Pakistan. Hapless citizens, glued to their television sets, watched Pakistan’s heavily fortified capital fall to protesters. Privately hired cranes tossed aside concrete barriers and shipping containers, while razor wire was cut through by professionals. A demoralised police was initially too afraid to follow attack orders.

From the shadows, the Pakistan Army — an institution known all too well to the Baloch and Bengalis — has, with uncharacteristic calm, watched Pakistan’s state institutions taken over by violent thugs. But rather than restore law and order, it chose to confer legitimacy on the insurgents by advocating negotiations. The brief takeover of Pakistan Television by PAT/PTI agitators did not result in any subsequent punitive action; the occupiers left shouting “Pak fauj zindabad”.

What’s the game plan here? Cricketer Khan’s is clear enough: create enough chaos so that the elected government can be forcibly overthrown. Subsequently, it will not be difficult to find a pliant Supreme Court judge who would favour mid-term elections. Then, perhaps with a little reverse rigging, he would be hurled towards what he sees as his rightful destiny — becoming the prime minister of Pakistan. The goals of the mercurial Holy Man from Canada are less clear; keeping the pot vigorously stirred is all that we’ve seen so far.

Continue reading Siege of Islamabad: what next?

Was this Lahore or Occupied Kashmir?

Islamabad diary

By Ayaz Amir

If this was Srinagar, and the Indian army had been trying to quell a crowd of Kashmiri demonstrators, we would have understood. We would have shaken our heads but we would have understood. Although even there the savagery and the mindless brutality of the Lahore police on supporters of Dr Tahirul Qadri would have seemed excessive.

The Indian army and the Indian police don’t have much of a reputation for being gentle in dealing with unruly Muslim protesters. Even so, when was the last time nine people, including two women and a youngster, were shot dead in cold blood in Srinagar? In addition to the dead there are around 30-40 people with gunshot wounds in hospital. When was the last time this happened across the Line of Control? When was the last time this was the tally of the dead and wounded in East Jerusalem or the West Bank?

And this wasn’t Hamas-ruled Gaza, the West Bank or Occupied Kashmir. This was Lahore and one of its better residential colonies. The chief minister lives in the same locality. But that evening when he addressed a press conference looking ever so contrite, he gave the impression that all this happened over his head. This from someone known as a hands-on chief minister…virtually half the city’s police force deployed against the Minhajul-Quran secretariat, the locality looking like a battlefield and resounding with the sound of gunfire for hours on end, and the chief minister in blissful ignorance.

Continue reading Was this Lahore or Occupied Kashmir?

Pakistan turmoil deepens as court orders PM’s arrest

By Mehreen Zahra-Malik & Matthew Green

ISLAMABAD | Agency: Reuters – Pakistan’s Supreme Court ordered the arrest of the prime minister on Tuesday in connection with an alleged corruption scandal, ratcheting up pressure on a government locked in a showdown with a cleric who has a history of ties to the army.

The combination of the arrest order and a mass street protest in the capital Islamabad led by Muslim cleric Muhammad Tahirul Qadri raised fears among politicians that the military was working with the judiciary to force out a civilian leader.

“There is no doubt that Qadri’s march and the Supreme Court’s verdict were masterminded by the military establishment of Pakistan,” Fawad Chaudhry, an aide to Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf, told Reuters. “The military can intervene at this moment as the Supreme Court has opened a way for it.”

Thousands of followers of Qadri camped near the federal parliament cheered as television channels broadcast news of the Supreme Court’s order to arrest Ashraf on charges of corruption, who took over in June after judges disqualified his predecessor. Pakistan’s powerful army has a long history of coups and intervening in politics.

These days it seems to have little appetite for a coup but many believe it still tries to exert behind-the-scenes influence on politics. The ruling coalition led by the Pakistan Peoples’ Party has weathered a series of crises with the judiciary and military over the last few years and hopes its parliamentary majority will help it survive until elections are called within a few months.

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Pakistani anti-corruption march reaches Islamabad

An influential Pakistani preacher and thousands of his supporters have reached Islamabad on Monday as part of a “long march” against corruption.

Tahirul Qadri, a preacher who returned to Pakistan from Canada last month, is leading a call for electoral reforms.

He left the city of Lahore on Sunday with thousands of supporters, and reached Islamabad late on Monday, where he addressed crowds near parliament.

The authorities accuse him of trying to postpone elections due by May.

The cleric wants the military and judiciary to be involved in installing a caretaker government to oversee the forthcoming elections.

The government is due to disband in March, and elections must then be held within six weeks.

Ultimatum

Addressing tens of thousands of supporters in the capital late on Monday night, Mr Qadri called for provincial assemblies to make way for a caretaker administration.

He wants measures put in place to prevent corrupt people or criminals from standing for elected office.

“Morally, your government and your assemblies have ended tonight,” he said from behind bullet-proof glass on a stage erected on Jinnah Avenue, less than a mile from Pakistan’s parliament.

“I will give [the government] a deadline until tomorrow to dissolve the federal parliament and provincial assemblies. After that, the people’s assembly here will take their own decision.”

Earlier, his black chauffeur-driven car was showered with pink rose petals as it approached the stage in Pakistan’s main city.

By the time his procession reached Islamabad, an estimated 10,000 people had joined the slow-moving convoy of cars, buses and trucks – more crowds were waiting in Islamabad to greet the cleric.

An extra 15,000 police had been deployed on the streets and many parts of the capital were sealed off.

Authorities in the capital had warned that Mr Qadri and his supporters would not be allowed into the city centre. The government had warned that militants may target the marchers.

Mr Qadri’s flamboyant preaching style and expensive television campaigns have raised his profile in Pakistan in recent weeks.

But there has also been widespread speculation that he is backed by Pakistan’s powerful military, and is being used to reassert the army’s control over Pakistani politics.

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Democratically elected government under siege – Government has till morning to resign, dissolve assemblies: Qadri

Government has till morning to resign, dissolve assemblies: Qadri

ISLAMABAD: Reaching his Islamabad early on Tuesday morning, the destination of his Long March, Tahirul Qadri gave the government an ultimatum for voluntarily resigning and dissolving the federal and provincial assemblies by 11 am on January 15, and let the people’s revolution take root in the country.

Speaking in a harsher than expected tone, Qadri congratulated the gathered crowd of tens of thousands over completing the long march peacefully. “The march has ended and now the revolution will begin.”

Continue reading Democratically elected government under siege – Government has till morning to resign, dissolve assemblies: Qadri

Pakistani cleric: catalyst for change or military stooge?

By Matthew Green and Mubasher Bukhari

LAHORE, Pakistan (Reuters): A month ago, Muhammad Tahirul Qadri was living quietly in Canada, immersed in the affairs of his Islamic charity and seemingly far removed from the pre-election power games shaping the fate of politicians in his native Pakistan.

In the past three weeks, he has returned home to lead a call for electoral reforms that has earned him instant celebrity, sent a stab of anxiety through the ruling class and raised fears of trouble at a planned rally in Islamabad on Monday.

“Our agenda is just democratic electoral reforms,” Qadri told Reuters in the eastern city of Lahore, the headquarters of his Minhaj-ul-Quran religious foundation. “We don’t want the law-breakers to become our lawmakers.”

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Qadri has returned to subvert electoral process: Nawaz

PML-N Chief Nawaz Sharif.
PML-N Chief Nawaz Sharif.

LAHORE: Referring to Tehreek-e-Minhajul Quran chief Tahirul Qadri, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) chief Nawaz Sharif has said that the “Sheikhul Islam” had come to Pakistan to subvert the electoral process and create anarchy in the country. Talking to media after meeting with the Jamhoori Watan Party (JWP) chief, Talal Akbar Bugti, on Thursday, the former prime minister said that the threat to hold a long march by Dr Qadri just ten weeks before the general elections appeared to be a conspiracy to create hurdles in the election process. “The Canadian national (Qadri) wants to derail democracy, which will not be allowed. A few people cannot hold hostage the entire nation,” he said. Nawaz said that the long march would create chaos in the country, which had already been hit by severe challenges.

Continue reading Qadri has returned to subvert electoral process: Nawaz