Notwithstanding the government efforts to stop, long march of Tehreek-e-Minhajul Quran (TMQ) proceeded from the City to Islamabad where it was scheduled to shape D-Chowk into Tahrir Square of Egypt.

The long march, in the first place, failed to move out in time and gather the public needed to make four million of them which was claimed by TMQ chief Dr Tahirul Qadri in his December 23 address in a mammoth public meeting at Minar-e-Pakistan.

Although the protracted sit-in protest by the Shia community against over 100 killings in Quetta made a mark yet the long march occupied the central stage and eclipsed all other activity in the City.

While addressing at Minare Pakistan, Dr Qadri had presented a programme of electoral reforms to rid the politics of the monopoly of dynasties and the system which facilitated only moneyed and feudal class to reach the power corridors and provided them every opportunity to loot the national resources. This, he said, was the root cause of abject poverty in the country.

The government took the long march for a conspiracy to derail the system and get the election postponed. The PML-N dubbed the long march a foreign sponsored conspiracy wherein local elements were also involved in denying this party a sweeping majority in the next elections, which was not acceptable to the forces which traditionally had been playing the role of power broker in our political system.

The federal government took such steps which gave many dramatic turns to the long march while the Punjab government despite claims of giving the march a free hand as long it remains peaceful, allegedly barricaded roads, forced the transporter to deny vehicles to the marchers and closed down the petrol stations.

On the part of the federal government, surprisingly, two of its coalition partners the MQM and the PML-Q instantly jumped into bandwagon of Dr Qadri after December 23. The MQM came out with much stronger support for the long march. Dr Qadri visited the nine zero and the MQM reciprocated this gesture by visiting Model Town office of the TMQ.

Altaf Hussain, telephonically addressing the people in Karachi, not only subordinated his party to Dr Qadri decisions on the long march but also asked the prime minister to talk to doctor sahib on any matter relating to it.

Without any delay, Interior Minister Rahman Malik rushed to London where he held a meeting with Altaf Hussain. On January 10, the MQM took a somersault and renounced support for the long march taking border situation and the Balochistan carnage as excuse. However, the press reports tell the stories of its bargain on Karachi seats and the Sindh People Local Government Act, the implementation of which matters much for the MQM.

Addressing the media, Dr Qadri expressed his resolve to take out the march at all costs and presented three of the seven points of his agenda and rest in Islamabad. Dr Qadri who had varied his stand since December 23, came out with the fresh demand of disbanding the Election Commission along with his two conditions i.e, impartial interim and strict implementation of Articles 62, 63 and 218 as a matter of electoral reforms.

As things progressed the PML-Q also sneaked out it support for the march and come down to only verbal support which too evaporated when Deputy Prime Minster Ch Pervez Elahi and PML-Q President Ch Shujaat Hussain went to meet Dr Qadri on the instructions of President Zardari. They left the meeting to meet again. To their great embarrassment on one occasion, the Chauhdrys also took with real estate tycoon Malik Riaz and Dr Qadri flatly refused to meet with unwanted guest as it could give the impression of his bargain. Qadri laid open his mind before the media on Riaz Malik’s presence at his residence and the scene was unique when a guest of the Deputy Prime Minster had to go back unceremoniously.

Rahman Malik had also met Qadri and according to the latter, had informed him about the terror act. The similar fears were also expressed by the Punjab government on the basis of the reports from the secret agencies and it had informed Dr Qadri in black and white. Qadri however brushed aside all the apprehensions of terrorism and asked the government to take two persons in the government in custody if terror act on his long march were to be checked. He named Rahman Malik and urged the Chief Justice of Pakistan taking suo moto notice and round him up for during the meeting with him, Malik has expressed indispensability of the terror attack on the march.

The PML-N remained skeptic about the federal government role as it could not be certain whether it was for the march or against it. Punjab also groused against the Centre for not handling the situation properly but let Punjab face the problems accompanying the march.

The N-League also boycotted talk with the four-member team appointed by the Centre and asked for showing it a specific agenda for the next elections and the interim set up. It doubted sincerity of the Centre in talks without election agenda and found it a move of the centre to loosely defuse the long march hype. Although both considered the long march an attack on the system and democracy yet inwardly both the government continued to stay apart. Whether it fails or succeed long march will have deep repercussions in the time to come. Abbas Sharif, younger brother of Nawaz Sharif and Shahbaz Sharif and  former JI Ameer Qazi Hussain Ahmed passed away last week.

Abbas Sharif and Qazi Hussain both were noble souls who made their name not only for their piety but also for service to the humanity. Qazi Hussain has served as JI Ameer for 22 years and had role in many developments related to the country and his Jamaat.  Abbas Sharif had won the National Assembly seat in 1993 elections and later on he never took part in politics but devoted his life to religion and business. The demise of both had left a big void in their own area.