Moving slowly but resolutely forward, Dr Qadri’s caravan that set off from Lahore on Sunday afternoon finally made it to Islamabad a couple of hours after nightfall the next day. It was greeted by a large crowd of followers and those who found sympathy for his manifesto, and had arrived with their families and already settled on the Faisal Avenue, Blue Area and surrounding roads of the federal capital, equipped with make-shift beddings and victuals to last for days. The Minhajul Quran workers were busy putting up mobile toilets. The long march picked up momentum on the way, as people lined up on both sides of the road, cheered and wished him success in his aim of reforming the electoral system. Quite a number, some in vehicles others on foot, joined the long march incrementally adding to its strength, while Dr Qadri himself remained sequestered in a bulletproof container. No one is venturing a guess about the number of people gathered at Islamabad, though Interior Minister believes it could be between 25,000 and 30,000.

The government and Dr Qadri have, reportedly, reached an agreement to the effect that there will be just one entry point in Islamabad; anyone entering Islamabad would be unarmed and searched for security purposes; no one will try to take the law into his hands, nor cross into the Red Zone. As the marchers appear to be well organised, it is hoped that the agreement would be adhered to strictly and the state of chaos and anarchy that some commentators have been predicting would not ensue; however the march is a threat to peace, with such a gathering providing an easy target to terrorist elements. As the nation knows to its discomfiture, the rule by military dictators has, time and again, proved to be a cog in the machine of democracy. Democratic traditions, therefore, never had time enough to take root before they were replaced with the wishes of a single individual. The best scenario would be for the participants of the march to submit to the electorate come election time. Meanwhile, such a display, with the acknowledged theme of trying to disrupt the system, while it will find sympathy with a frustrated layman after four years of abysmal governance, is still not in the favour of the future of Pakistan. The single most essential focus should be that democracy is not derailed under any circumstances and the general elections are held when they are due.