The Wednesday show in Lahore

Daily: Daily Times
Date: 21.01.18

Since August 2014, the frequent but furtive Toronto meetings reified into the London plan
have journeyed a long distance. The plan was unleashed with the aim of bringing the
incumbent government under pressure to spare General retired Pervaiz Musharraf of the
clutches of Article 6. The recourse adopted was to undermine the legitimacy of the
government – on the allegation of rigging the general elections of 2013 – to the extent that
a “third umpire” would intervene to make the judicio-military takeover possible.

Dr Tahirul Qadri caught the attention of wheeler-dealers when he singlehandedly staged a
protest under his “Save State Movement” in Islamabad in January 2013 before the general
elections. Piqued by his revolutionary instinct, Dr Qadri yearned for making a Tehrir Square
to bring a green revolution in Pakistan. The Arab Spring and Egypt were the immediate
reference points. Nevertheless, his speeches bearing an incendiary streak made him a
blue-eyed boy of behind-the-scene actors, the real instigators of the London plan, be they
General Ahmed Shuja Pasha or General Zaheer-ul Islam.  

The much vaunted Baqir Najfi report is vocal only on the blood-soaked incident that took
place outside the premises of Dr Qadri’s institute, Minhajul Quran, devouring lives of a
dozen of his followers. However, the report is silent on the real motive prompting Dr Qadri to
follow the London plan, besides the past history of resistance offered by his institute to the
state. Families of the deceased have not yet asked Dr Qadri of the blueprint of the plan
that he wanted to accomplish – without their permission or consent. Devotees remain blind
to the astute sense of their leader and remain unlearned in the art of asking questions and
impugning the motives. This is how a tragedy is born. Blind faith and unflinching loyalty
remain the spring that oozes blood.

The ongoing agitation is a spin-off of the London plan, which helped General Musharraf
escape from the clutches of Article 6 by avoiding the pending trial for abrogating the
Constitution. Since April 2013, General Musharraf was under a restriction not to leave
Pakistan, after he returned from self-imposed exile. The London plan paved the way for the
flight of General Musharraf from Pakistan under the ruse of medical treatment in March

Since the conclusion of the London plan, two developments have taken place. First, the
requisite number of dead bodies of Dr Qadri’s followers are available to thrive on. Second,
the Faizabad sit-in staged by some religious groups has exposed the vulnerable parts of
the government. Both can be rolled into one. The need is to revitalize resentment in the
followers, marshal an enormous assembly, launch another long march, stage a sit-in and
choke Faizabad chowk, Rawalpindi. Faizabad also suits because it is in Punjab against the
government of which Dr Qadri’s party, PAT, harbours grievances. D-chowk has served the
London plan; Faizabad chowk will serve the offshoot of the London plan.

When the London plan was being materialized in Pakistan, Dr Qadri craved for being the
“leader of revolution”, as depicted in the press release issued by the PAT Headquarters on
August 10, 2014. Before the press release, during a press conference, the Chaudhrys of
Gujrat endeavoured to convince Dr Qadri of joining hands with them as an equal partner to
launch the revolution to construct a Tahrir Square. Dr Qadri hurriedly left the press
conference without any such announcement (or a joint declaration) and thereby leaving the
Chaudhrys mortified. Later on, the Chaudhrys submitted to the leadership of Dr Qadri.
Similarly, Imran Khan had to submit to the leadership of Dr Qadri. This time again, the
leadership role is vested in Dr Qadri. The rest are minions, who are offering support to Dr
Qadri in a hope of stumbling the government down before the Senate elections due in
March. The cronies have stooped so low embodied by Sheikh Rasheed who announced to
resign from the National Assembly after vituperating it several times.

The case of Sheikh Rasheed is of an unscrupulous politician who performs as a stooge to
earn cheap publicity. This person has singlehandedly maligned politics in Pakistan. A few
days ago, in Chakwal, he spoke to stir the masses up in the name of religion to vote for the
PTI in the by-election. The same malicious act he tried to do in the Wednesday show in
Lahore. During the implementation phase of the London plan, his relevance was of acting
as a bridge between the PTI and the PAT. Now, he is trying to be the major instigator of
disruption and disorder, without realizing the fact that there were vacant chairs staring right
at his face, on the Mall, Lahore.  

At the occasion, Imran Khan made an interesting claim. He said that his party had mastered
the politics of agitation by taking people to the streets and that he was ready to give some
tips to Dr Qadri to make his movement successful. In the spell of pontification, he forgot that
the originators of the London plan had selected Dr Qadri and not him as a veteran and
potential long-march launcher. Moreover, in October 2016, Imran Khan baulked at coming
out of his house to join his followers when he gave a strike call to lock down Islamabad on
November 2. In the realm of politics of protest, much credit goes to the ex-members of the
Jamat-i-Islami (JI), such as Mian Mehmood ur Rasheed and Ejaz Ahmed Chaudhry in
Lahore and Fayyaz ul Hassan Chohan in Rawalpindi who got disappointed with the JI and
joined the ranks of the PTI to seek a new lease of life.

The Wednesday show was a flop. The main advantages were pocketed by the PPP
represented by Asif Ali Zardari and co-represented by Aitzaz Ahsan, who not only tried to
extricate the PPP from the allegation of being a friendly opposition but they also mollified Dr
Qadri to forestall any of his diatribe launched against the PPP in the future. For the PPP,
the boon was two in one.

Back to columns in 2018