ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (DND) – A new political history is being written in Pakistan as thousands of people are sitting outside of its parliament for the last four days in a peaceful sit-in. Women, girls, children, men, and boys are all together sitting on the road in Islamabad, where the temperature goes down to 0c at night, on the call of the moderate Islamist religious-political party of Dr. Tahirul Qadri.
Tehreek-e-Minhaj ul Quran’s demands include disbanding of parliament before the forthcoming general elections and formation of an interim government of all stakeholders of society instead of only parties present in parliament. He also demands to abolish the Election Commission of Pakistan to formulate a new Election Commission. Sitting government (Treasury Benches) and Opposition in Parliament are both of the view that demands of Dr. Qadri are anti-constitution, and there is no room for such demands in the Pakistani constitution. Dr. Qadri calls Pakistani parliament as bogus, corrupt, incompetent, and useless and maintains that the country is ruled by radical forces and terrorists, and leaders are enjoying their lives instead of addressing these issues and providing peace and honest governance to the country.
This sit-in is supported by the Shia community of the country that is facing cleansing and genocide by radical Wahabi and Salafi religious groups including the Taliban.
Talking to Dispatch News Desk (DND) on Wednesday from his specially and purpose-built, bunker-like caravan, Dr. Qadri was of the view that directions of the Pakistan Supreme Court to arrest Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf had nothing to do with the march of his party but maintained that it was a right step of the Supreme Court to pass orders for the arrest of the Prime Minister in a corruption case.
Pakistan is facing its worst political crises where the share market crashed on Tuesday, and people are gathering and protesting for the first time against the killing of the Shia community while parliament is surrounded by thousands of protestors who had no intention to leave the capital city of Islamabad unless the alleged corrupt government did not leave the government. Dr. Qadri in his address to thousands of participants outside Parliament House, said it is inevitable to pull the corrupt leaders out of the government as the country can’t flourish unless these rulers step down. The TMQ leader said a revolution will arrive through this long march, and there will be no place any longer for the corrupt politicians to stay in the government. Qadri is of the view that he has put forward only three demands, while the fourth one just relates to the mechanism of implementation. He reiterated that if their demands are not met, they will not withdraw.
Amazingly, former world cricketer and chairman of his own party, Imran Khan, has expressed his support for the Shia community and Dr. Qadri, although Imran Khan was considered as a soft supporter of the Taliban in the past. Imran Khan has demanded purging those elements that are killing Shias all over the country. When asked during his press conference in Lahore by the Dispatch News Desk (DND) that a component of the Taliban – the banned outfit of Lashkar-i-Jhangvi has taken responsibility for the killing of 110 persons of the Hazara Shia community in Quetta – Imran Khan was of the view that whosoever was involved in the genocide of the Shia community must be controlled and punished. This was first time Imran Khan criticized the Taliban factor.
The Hazara Shia community did not bury their dead people for three days, demanding that the provincial government of Balochistan be disbanded and Governor Raj clamped in Balochistan, in protest of the constant killing of Shias in the Balochistan and Pakhtun Khawa provinces.
Besides an end to the genocide, the Hazara Shias wanted military operations against banned outfits like the Sipah-e-Sahaba and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi. Accusing the state of a policy of apartheid against the Hazara Shias – who have been victims of relentless sectarian attacks for several years now – some in the community are demanding an Army takeover of the province while others are openly critical of the security establishment for allowing its proxies to carry out such a “genocide.” Army sources are of the view that the situation with India has again become tense, and the Pakistan Army cannot engage itself in Balochistan or North Waziristan, which are hubs of Taliban activities.
A journalist cadre of Pakistan is very conscious about the timing of the protest move of Dr. Tahirul Qadri who is a Canadian citizen and who came to Pakistan from Canada where he has since been living.
Political scientists are of the view that the reaction of people is not against democracy, but rather against the bad governance and non-stop violence in the country. When asked to comment about the grave political situation in Pakistan, senior political analyst and the Director of News and Current Affairs of leading television channel, Aab Takk, Nasir Baig Chughtai said: “I think Pakistan is building its democracy, and in this process we will face more conservative and pro-dictatorship elements.
“On the other hand, a possible withdrawal of United States from Afghanistan may cause more disturbance in Pakistan. However, the recipe for strong Pakistan will remain democracy and good governance in [the] coming days.”
Political, as well as the social situation of Pakistan, is becoming volatile with every passing day, with a positive aspect that people now are coming out of their homes like a Tehrir Square situation, demanding justice against terrorism and the political situation.
Editor of The Vigilant and a senior journalist, Muhammad Ayub, was of the view that Pakistan can come out of this turmoil provided the forthcoming elections are held in fair and free circumstances.
Dr. Qadri founded Minhaj-ul-Qur’an in 1981 and established its headquarters in Lahore. In less than 30 years, Minhaj-ul-Qur’an has expanded and spread over more than 90 countries around the world, and in terms of its comprehensive and all-encompassing sphere of activities – educational, social, cultural, and spiritual – Minhaj-ul-Qur’an is probably one of the largest non-governmental organizations in the world.
Major political parties and radical religious parties are accusing Dr. Qadri of being sponsored by western powers, because main funding for his schools comes in from European countries, and he passed Fatwa (a religious decree) against the Taliban as well as promotes interfaith harmony.
The Taliban consider him a stooge of the United States, while moderate people consider him a tolerant person who is running one of the biggest educational institution networks in Pakistan while sitting abroad with foreign funding. He is the founder of the Minhaj Education Society which has established more than 570 schools and colleges in Pakistan. He is also the founding Chairman of the Minhaj Welfare Foundation, a humanitarian and social welfare organization working globally. He is the founding leader of different forums of Minhaj-ul-Qur’an including the Minhaj-ul-Qur’an Ullama Council, Minhaj-ul-Qur’an Women League, Minhaj Youth League, Mustafavi Students Movements, and Muslim Christian Dialogue Forum.