SAID ALAM KHAN - Though, on political horizon Tahirul Qadri’s long march to Islamabad has cautioned many people, there is no charm in the same call for the people of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, as no activity in this regard has so far taken place to mobilise and attract supporters. In fact, PAT, headed by Dr Tahirul Qadri, does not have any provincial setup and organisational body in the province. Apart from this, it is to remind that Qadri who also runs Tehrik-e-Minhaj-ul-Quran, paid his last visit to Peshawar in 2003.

Since then, KPK, in general, and Peshawar, in particular, has been suffering a lot owing to militancy followed by operations, repatriation of millions of people and the severe floods in 2010 which ruined each and every sector. Unfortunately, Qadri, during this period, did not even bother to issue a single statement, showing sympathies with the militancy-hit people of the province.

That is why in KPK there is no attraction in Qadri’s untimely long march call. In the rest of the country, preparations are in full swing to join the marchers who, as Qadri claims, would be in millions. There is not even a single banner or poster in Peshawar regarding the much-talked long march to Islamabad. Interestingly, a few banners regarding Qadri’s arrival and historic public speech in Lahore on December 23 last year are still available in the city, but there are no banners and posters in Peshawar to invite the public to participate in the march.

In addition, the PAT and the TMQ have so far failed to arrange any public gathering and have not launched any drive to attract people for the long march, so caravans will leave from Punjab and Sindh only.

Spokesman for the KPK government, Mian Iftikhar Hussain, has said the provincial government would facilitate those going to Islamabad and provide to them foolproof security.  Talking to TheNation, an office bearer of PAT, Khalid Durrani, said over 10,000 party workers and supporters would leave for Islamabad. Many party workers have left for the venue individually, not collectively, to avoid their arrest which the government has planned ahead of the event. He, however, complained that no transporter was willing to go with them, alleging the government had pressurised them. He said the slogan “Save State, not Politics” is actually the vice of each and every Pakistani.

Commenting on the existing political situation, political pundits observed that countrymen had been deceived through such tall claims in the past, so it would be hard enough to deceive them anymore.

“Where was Dr Qadri when Pakistan was hit by various crises and is still confronting external and internal challenges? It would not be wrong to say that this is no time to march to Islamabad. In the near past, Pervez Musharraf had introduced a well-framed reforms agenda. Where is he and his agenda today?” they said.  “It is not more than eyewash; politicians did nothing to change the lot of the people of the country. At this stage, no agenda will work anymore. Any govt which gives the people jobs, provides to them security and improves their living standards, will be able to win their hearts,” they added.

“Almost all political and religious parties have opposed Qadri’s plan to turn Islamabad into Tahrir Square and oust the govt which, according to him, is the most corrupt. If it is for the betterment of political system in the country, why did Qadri not consult the rest of the political forces on his reforms agenda?” they questioned.

At this stage, it is too difficult to accept his demands as the government is going to complete its five-year term in March 2013. And it will be for the very first time that a government is completing its exact five years. Political and religious parties do not like Qadri’s reforma agenda because they are flexing muscles to actively take part in the coming general elections and have started preparations. Certainly, the fact is that Tahirul Qadri has never been a political force in Pakistan.

The PAT could never make any difference in any constituency of Pakistan except one. Qadri managed to win a National Assembly seat from Lahore in 2002 elections. Being the sole representative of his party, he could not play any role in the NA. Frustrated by the political atmosphere in the country, Qadri decided to resign from the National Assembly seat and migrated to Canada in 2004. On December 23, he emerged on the political horizon to change the existing ‘corrupt system’. Well-popular slogans, he had this time, but timing is not accurate. Let’s see what happens in the coming days.