Perhaps nothing more showed the effects of the Supreme Court’s ordering the arrest of Prime Minister Pervaiz Ashraf in the Rental Power Plants reference than the fact that it stopped Tehrik Minhajul Quran chief Dr Tahirul Qadri in his speech to those who had spent the night camped in the open, after the long march in the last two days, while he luxuriated in a bulletproof container. Dr Qadri however, recovered fast and continued on his ill-advised mission to sell impossible dreams to vulnerable persons. He lamented that the elections produced legislators who impoverished the people, and marketed his long march as an altruistic movement, meant to bring about electoral reforms. Dr Qadri continued to air idealism that included promises for  instant political and economic reforms, leading to the removal of the corrupt culture that he blamed as an obstacle to economic growth. He said that there would be a seven-point communiqué issued, the first point of which was peace at home and abroad.

Dr Qadri insisted that he wanted the task of reform achieved by constitutional means, claiming that if he had descended to disorder, he could have seized power immediately. However, that the march has created disorder in the federal capital shows more than anything else, why it is being used as inimical to democracy, as an excuse to wrap up the system and take over. Dr Qadri’s sporadic threats to public officials also belie his claim of non-violence He seems least concerned with the fact that the country is headed to an election, the first since 1996 not supervised by a military regime. Dr Qadri has said he does not want a takeover, but he has also attacked the Chief Election Commissioner, who was only recently appointed, and that too with the consent of both major political parties. Dr Qadri is thus in no position to demand major electoral reforms, nor of saying that the Election Commission cannot be trusted to be involved in the process.

This is not the only excuse to derail democracy. There is also the Quetta situation, where Governor’s Rule has been imposed. Taking it with Dr Qadri’s long march, and with the demands he has raised, the mainstream political parties must get together and evolve a joint stand. The political parties have often said, and the people agree, that they regard the coming elections of crucial importance. There are two pressing issues before the nation, which demand joint action: electoral reform and the Quetta situation. They cannot be made political footballs, and demand joint action by the parties if they are not to become excuses for Bonapartism and adventurism.