LAHORE - Dr Tahirul Qadri reiterated on Saturday that he will lead the march on Islamabad on Sunday, as scheduled.

However, the second round of talks held in less than 24 hours between Tehrik Minhajul Quran (TMQ) chairman and Deputy Prime Minister Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi and PML-Q President Chaudhry Shujaat Husain witnessed some progress.

The deputy PM told reporters at a news conference along with the TMQ chief that the negotiations could take some time to reach some conclusion. “Maybe all matters are settled by the time the march reaches Islamabad”.

Dr Qadri said implementation of whatever would be agreed upon was the real issue and he would not be satisfied unless he was given guarantees. “The end result of the entire exercise will be known after the end of the march in front the Parliament House”.

The TMQ chairman has already made it clear that he needs institutional guarantees, as the present rulers are not trustworthy.

When Pervaiz Elahi and Shujaat came to the TMQ Secretariat Saturday afternoon, they were accompanied by property tycoon Malik Riaz. But Dr Qadri refused to meet the Chaudhrys in the presence of Mr Malik.

In front of TV cameras, Qadri told the Chaudhrys that Mr Malik did not have a good reputation and was known to be adept in ‘buying with money’ whatever he wanted. “I don’t want to destroy the image of my movement by holding talks in the presence of Malik Riaz. (His) wealth cannot purchase even my foot shoe”, he said, causing the worst ever embarrassment to the property mogul, who is involved in litigation against the son of Chief Justice of Pakistan.

Malik had alleged that Arsalan Iftikhar had received some 340 million rupees in cash or pleasure trips to various countries on the commitment that he would get the financer favourable decisions from the apex court in cases pending against him.

At the news conference the Chaudhrys tried to comfort the snubbed Malik by talking about his services to the poor, but the serious insult inflicted by Dr Qadri could not be mitigated.

Embarrassed Malik Riaz left the venue, but advised Dr Qadri to continue his talks with the Chaudhrys in the larger national interest. He said the long march could take countless innocent lives and the tragedy should be avoided at all costs.

He further said that he had played a role in narrowing down the differences on all three main demands of Dr Qadri and now the efforts should be continued to translate them into an agreement.

Before resuming the press talk, the Chaudhries brought with them Dr Khalid Ranjha, a former law minister of the Musharraf era.

“The embarrassing situation would not have cropped up if you have accompanied the Chaudhrys at the outset,” Qadri chuckled.

Dr Qadri said that the Chaudhrys have given assurance of implementing TMQ demands regarding electoral reforms. While asserting that march would be held on scheduled time, he said that mere assurances to enforce electoral reforms would not suffice and there should be a guarantee to their full implementation. When asked as to whose guarantee he sought, he pointed towards the cameras saying ‘it may be yours’, but it was unclear if actually meant the media or the public at larger watching the press conference at their TV sets. He said that the Chaudhrys have assured that all measures would be taken to avoid any untoward incident during long march.

Pervaiz Elahi said that Dr Qadri wanted negotiations in Islamabad. He said that the coalition government would remove legal hurdles to the demands of Dr Qadri. Referring to the unpleasant incident of Dr Qadri’s refusal to meet the visiting delegation that included Malik Riaz, he said that the situation had gone to that extent due to misunderstanding. “We informed Dr Qadri that some people will accompany us. Dr Qadri said that you could bring anybody,” he said.

Earlier, Dr Qadri demanded reconstitution of election commission after its dissolution, saying that the commission was formed after understanding between the PPP and the PML-N and as such it was not neutral. Terming statement of Rehman Malik regarding possibility of terrorist attack on long march a direct threat, he urged the Chief Justice of Pakistan to take suo moto notice.

He said that the TMQ has seven-point charter of demands and one of those would be made public in Lahore at the start of long march while the remaining would be told in Islamabad. Referring to Imran Khan’s slogan of ‘change’, he urged the PTI workers to act upon party manifesto and actively participate in long march.

Referring to the negotiations with the government, he said that the rulers’ agenda was political wheeling dealing and they have no time for discussing the problems of the masses. He, however, said that he has not closed doors of negotiations. He asserted that long march would be held as per schedule and it would not be postponed in the name of dialogue.

Dr Qadri said that he did not believe in taking decisions indoors and marchers would leave for Imambari Islamabad from Data Darbar on Sunday morning. He said that he had declared his mission as Hussaini and as such he was not afraid of death. Referring to the Quetta incident, Qadri said that he has talked to Lashkari Raisani and the situation in Balochistan was really alarming.