ISLAMABAD - Dr Tahirul Qadri has given a deadline of 48 hours to meet his demands including dissolution of federal and provincial governments, issuing a veiled threat that he will not be able to control his supporters if PM Nawaz Sharif does not surrender after resigning from his post by the end of the deadline.
Talking to his supporters around midnight on Saturday in Islamabad, where he is staging ‘Inqilab March’ to send the government packing, PAT chief once again pleaded people to come out of the houses and join his campaign.
Qadri said there are very few moments in the history of the nations when revolution knock on their door and now was the moment for Pakistani nation. He also asked the officials of Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to put the names of all the federal ministers, prime minister and Punjab chief minister on the exit control list so they could not flee the country.
Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) chief said that former Punjab law minister Rana Sanaullah has already planned to flee the country in next 24 hours. He warned security personal that if Rana or any other ‘accused’ left the country then they will be prosecuted.
The populist cleric said that federal government has planned terrorist activities against him and alleged that Nawaz Sharif is the ‘biggest terrorist’ of the world. He warned that if any terrorist incident happens in the gathering, Nawaz government will be held responsible for it solely.
Earlier in the evening, around 5pm, PAT chief presented his 10-point charter of demands and, as expected, asked for the formation of a national government and resignation of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif.
Once national government is formed, Qadri said, it should follow his agenda for good of the people, especially the have-nots. His declared agenda included restoration of legal and constitutional rights of people, provision of basic necessities to its people including shelter, food, jobs, education and medical facilities.
According to him his visualised national government would ensure elimination of terrorism and extremism from the society, accountability of the corrupt. He reiterated that no martial law will be tolerated in the country and the only system chosen for Pakistan will be democratic one.
Qadri then wanted his proposed national government to bring electoral reforms and to ensure devolution of power. He also stood up for the minority rights in the country and asked for ensuring it. He also wanted an end to violent sectarianism and announced that constitution would be amended to ensure that no person from one sect could declare those from others infidel. He proposed setting up of peace centres in the whole country for elimination of extremism.
As part of his dream of devolution of powers, PAT chief demanded dividing the country into 23 provinces so as to have better administrational control and system of checks and balance. He also asked for the autonomy of district governments. He said that local bodies system provide an opportunity to share power at the grassroots level and it also makes easier for the people to contact their representatives.
Dr Qadri during his address announced that Session Court Lahore on application of Minhajul Quran had ordered police to file FIR against 21 accused of Model Town incident including the prime minister and Punjab chief minister.
Legal experts however said that Qadri misinterpreted the court’s orders as it made the provincial government bound to conduct proper investigation in the matter and put the name of chief minister on the FIR only if he is found to be involved.
At the start of his address, Qadri reminded his followers of 14 people martyred in Model Town Lahore by Punjab Police and repeatedly asked them, “Will you forget the blood of those martyred?” and he was responded with a loud NO by his followers every time. PAT chief however ordered his followers not to turn violent in any case rather he said, “If someone fires at you, don’t respond rather sacrifice your life.”
In a sophisticated way, he also tried his level best to prove himself a bigger leader as compared to his long march competitor Imran Khan, who last night left his rally venue for his residence in Bani Gala while leaving the marchers alone. Qadri in the very start of his speech told his loyalists that he was there with them all the time, never left them alone and will stay with them till the end. He repeated this point many times during his speech without naming Imran. Qadri said, “I will live and die with the people of Pakistan and we are not going anywhere till Inqlab March succeeds”.
While he was making his speech, an interesting situation developed. His security team captured a man with a gun and told Qadri about it. Qadri announced, “It is a heard that a Gullu Butt who entered in the crowd for some terrorist activity has been caught”. Then he ordered his security personals not to beat the man and bring him to the stage. When the man was brought to stage, Qadri put the gun of that man back in his hand and asked him to open fire at him – which he did not. Qadri announced that he will teach the man the lesson of love instead of hatred. He hugged the man and let him go.
Later it was discovered that the man was not a terrorist but a security personal in civil dress who was returning after completing his duty hours. The man was apparently trying to tell about himself while on the stage but nobody bothered to pay attention to his words.
In the present situation it seems tough for the government to deal with Qadri as compared to Imran Khan, many of whose followers are not used to harsh weather conditions and living in the open. What Qadri will draw out of this Inqlab March remains a million dollar question but the location he has selected for his sit-in seems ideal for his followers to stay for a long time in the capital if they wanted to.
All the food shops of Aabpara Market were open on Saturday and the protesters did not have any problem in getting essential items. Moreover, the venue is very close to Lal Masjid, where his marchers can go for shelter and use washrooms. They also have lot of sheltering space in the corridors of market plazas where they can go during heavy rain.