The Dr Qadri episode

Daily: Daily Times
Date: 25.06.14

A person who can appeal to religious sentiments can stir up the masses to achieve any
objective in Pakistan. This is the message stemming from Allama Tahirul Qadri of the
Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT). On Monday morning, at Lahore airport, before abandoning
the plane that had been diverted from Islamabad, Qadri said unequivocally that he would
not compromise on anything less than a ‘revolution’. He also revealed that he had come
back to Pakistan with his bag and baggage to bring about a ‘revolution’. He also publicised
that he wanted to spend the rest of his life in Pakistan, one of the testimonies to which is
that (as he said) he did not leave even his socks behind in Canada.

Along with all his socks, Qadri has brought his Canadian nationality to Pakistan. Now, he
enjoys the benefits of dual nationality. It is heard that he wants to bring a ‘Green
Revolution’ to Pakistan. No one has yet claimed the copyright of such a revolution in
Pakistan. The slot is open to the early bird. Retrospectively, the Arab Spring might have
done justice to the Arabs but it has become a headache for Pakistanis. The Arab Spring
has somehow inspired all those Pakistani aspirants who dreamt of entering the corridors of
power through the back door. Having predicated on the youth, every (aspiring) leader
wants to give his version of the Arab Spring a whirl (in the context of Pakistan) to see if it is
rewarding. The only back door available in Pakistan is (created and) manned by the military
for which past martial law regimes are evidence. Qadri has also shown faith only in the
military and has placed reliance on the youth incited through religious sentiments. However,
Qadri has not so far revealed the role the military will play in the revolution he is hell bent
on introducing.

Qadri might not be interested in becoming the prime minister of Pakistan but what about
those who are keen to be so by treading the path paved by Qadri? Similarly, waiting in the
wings are those who may not get a chance to be the premier of the country but they yearn
to pull down the incumbent government. Imran Khan of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI)
has said that he is not joining hands with Qadri’s PAT but it is obvious that he will be the
first one lashing out against any effort of the government to neutralise Qadri’s bid to
undermine the parliamentary system. Khan is openly not siding with Qadri (and his party)
for two reasons. First, Khan is taking care of the openly liberal tinge of his party and does
not want it to be polluted by the conservative religious colour of Qadri’s party. This is the
image problem. Second, Khan wants to seek the benefit of Qadri’s effort to weaken the
moral standing of the government and does not want to play second fiddle to him. This is
the ego problem. Some also call it opportunism. If these problems had not been there,
Khan would have greeted Qadri at Islamabad’s airport.

Nevertheless, there are two other kinds of politicians who are devoid of such hindrances
and are openly siding with Qadri (and his party). The first are the Chaudhrys of Gujarat and
the second is Sheikh Rasheed of Rawalpindi. They have nothing to lose by joining hands
with Qadri (and his party). They are already at the fag end of the political break
phenomenon and have been looking for the opportunity of a political make affair.

The actual conflict is not between the central government and (the rhetoric of) the PAT to
create a revolution. The real battle is between the central government and (the aspirations
of) the opportunists who instigated Qadri into coming back, taking the masses to the streets
and making space for their relevance. In this context, Qadri is just a front man doing
someone else’s bidding. In order to snub behind-the-scenes players, both the central and
provincial (Punjab) governments have suppressed the PAT. All those saner voices that
were criticising the undue Green Revolution of Qadri are now criticising the Punjab
government on its causing, needlessly, the Model Town incident, which took 11 innocent
lives. Revolutions cannot be triggered as Qadri is trying to do, nor can revolutions be stifled
as the Punjab government has tried to stifle them. The Punjab government overkilled the
issue and is now in trouble.

The Gullu Butt phenomenon was interesting. This one-man army dented the reputation of
both the police and the Punjab government. The sabotage actions performed by Butt with
impunity indicate that the police had its plans in place to tackle the PAT in its own way. If
Butt had not been caught on camera, the damage done to all the vehicles parked in the
vicinity of Minhajul Quran — the headquarters of the PAT — could have been laid on the
PAT workers. The Punjab government did to itself the damage that its detractors could not
collectively do. One point is still not clear: when the efforts of the police to remove barriers
from the road(s) leading to the PAT’s headquarters had been ongoing since early morning
(1:00 am), what prompted the police to resort to violence after nine hours (10:00 am)?
What went wrong in these nine hours is yet to be known.

As is apparent, Qadri has taken upon himself to decide the timing and the manner of the
kind of revolution he wants to introduce in Pakistan. He thinks that he has the mandate to
do so. He also firmly believes that the military is supportive of him. On the other hand, the
central government thinks that its detractors are promoting Qadri from behind the scenes to
destabilise it. Qadri, with all his foibles, stands between the central government and its
opponents. Nevertheless, by confining Qadri to Lahore and especially in the PAT’s
headquarters, half of the crisis is over.

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