We have a man who says he stands to fight the rights of the poor. Someone who has constantly blamed the government for looking after only itself, and not the people it swore to protect. But Dr. Tahir-ul-Qadri’s, Sheikh-ul-Islam’s promise of revolution has fallen short. And if BBC reports are to believed, this revolution is exploiting the people it was supposed to save. This should not come as much of a surprise to any thinking individual, however. Interviews conducted by the broadcasting channel reveal that students were paid as little as Rs. 2000 to join the march for a few days, and now are being threatened if they wish to leave. This is abhorrent, and distastefully hypocritical, but it is not surprising. Violent tendencies have been displayed time and again by PAT workers since their sit-in, and the attack on PTV was yet another reminder of how quickly things could get out of hand. Who were these hooligans? Were they truly the impassioned supporters of a spiritual cleric? Or were they paid attendees, exploited for their poverty, and there to make a bit of noise?

No matter how many babies he kisses, Tahir-ul-Qadri will not be able to wipe the stain of this accusation with transparent PR campaigns. There are claims he sent out workers in Gujranwala to offer mothers extra money if they brought their young children to the “revolution march.” The aloofness of the PAT over this issue only makes it all seem more suspicious. And perhaps the greatest irony, in a final twist of poetic justice, is that the revelation has come from the Western media, to whom Qadri so desperately peddles his speeches (in english). If this report is indeed true, it hammers the final nail in the coffin of his bid to overthrow the system.

Dr. Qadri knows that there’s no point in using his favourite tactic of maligning the accuser and blaming them of some baseless atrocity. He has already expressed his admiration for all things British and professed his loyalty to the Queen only last year, at his hearing in the apex court. The protests have thankfully moved to the background of national discourse, since the damage caused by the floods is exceeding all estimates. It is rather tragic that our faculties have so dulled, it takes a natural disaster to shock the nation into realising the real problems we face. Nonetheless, those being held against their will must be let go, and an investigation must be carried out to separate the lies from this preacher’s claims, so those who wilfully support him can, at the very least, know the truth behind the man they so blindly follow.