As a long-time fan and admirer I was very disappointed when Imran Khan declined Dr Tahirul Qadri’s repeated requests to join him in his historic long march on Islamabad in mid-January. The march was unprecedented in the history of Pakistan in terms of discipline, perseverance and dedication. It was aimed at putting a stop to the flouting of constitutional provisions and paving the way for true democracy which has eluded the people of Pakistan for several decades. PTI, which generally consists of people with untainted characters would have been the biggest beneficiary of any success attained by Dr Qadri, but it failed to take advantage of the situation provided, and this decision may cost it heavily.

After PTI’s successful meetings in Lahore and Karachi last year, Imran Khan and PTI were regarded as most likely to assume leadership in the next elections. According to surveys conducted at that time by the reputable International Republican Institute (IRI), “Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) tops the list of popular parties in Pakistan both at the national as well as provincial level, leaving Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) behind.”

For five days in mid-January this year, the whole country sat riveted to their TV and radio sets, enthralled by the voice of truth and logic. The hearts and minds of the people of Pakistan were won over by Dr Tahirul Qadri and his brave band of men, women and children. The only voices of discord that were raised were by jealous politicians who felt threatened.

The country and many members of PTI were waiting for Imran Khan, but sadly they were all let down. If he had joined Dr Qadri on January 16 and added his weight, a real tsunami would have cleared the way for free and fair elections for the first time since the 1970 elections conducted under military supervision. Dr Qadri’s movement was to provide solutions on how the undeserving aspirants can be removed from politics. Articles 62 and 63 of Pakistan’s Constitution provides an easy way, it provided the terms ‘sadiq (truthful)’ and ‘ameen (trustworthy)’ which are defined in tangible terms. Honest applications of Articles 62 and 63 would debar at least 80 percent of the current politicians from contesting elections, weeding out, amongst others, the following groups of people; the tax evaders, loan defaulters, false degree holders and corrupt people involved in any case.

Before the appeals on the unsuitability of candidates was shelved, the candidates were allowed to contest, with the judgments getting lost in appeals and counter-appeals, while the current post holder continued to enjoy the benefits of his profession. In future, the decision of the Election Commissioner to debar the ineligible candidate will be made final, with any appeals etc. allowed only after completion of the elections.

I can understand others opposition parties opposing Dr Qadri’s movement, because their own candidates may come under the chopping block if Rules 62 and 63 were honestly applied but I still fail to understand why Imran Khan should be worried.


Dublin, February 10.