With the slogan ‘Blood for blood’ on display by ardent supporters, Tahir-ul-Qadri made his return to Lahore with a sermon on Mall Road this Friday. It is not like the government seems to mind the periodic visits of Tahir-ul-Qadri every two years or so, considering there is not much these protests lead to. This has become a tradition, that the leader of the Pakistan Awami Tehrik (PAT) brings large crowds to the Mall, while the government silently observes. Apart from Sheikh Rashid, who seems to have some special affinity to anything resembling a political protest, other prominent or mid-level leaders such as Chaudhry Sarwar from PTI, Latif Khosa from PPP and others from PML-Q were also in attendance, with their workers in tow. Once wonders how much of a show of force PAT would really make if the PTI was not swelling its numbers.

The affair was similar to the daily spectacle at D Chowk two years ago, except the fact that his party has still not received justice after two years of the Model Town tragedy. Fourteen people were gunned down by the police, a PML-N worker was charged with causing damage to both life and property, and yet no one in the chain of command received so much as a slap on the wrist. Qadri comes and Qadri leaves, and is unable to put any sustained pressure on the ruling party.

His solution leaves much to be desired. Qadri is looking for justice in the wrong place if the army chief is his go-to man. Anyone asking for a coup should also be answerable to the people for attempting to curtail or undermine their intrinsic liberties, including the right to choose one’s own political representatives. Tahir-ul-Qadri has two things that the common man does not possess; widespread support in many parts of the country and the opportunity for unlimited airtime. Using both to pressure the government into doing what he wants is the right way to go about things, instead of asking the army to intervene at the cost of the whole system.

Tahir-ul-Qadri’s ultimate aim after 2014 was revealed to be increasing his supporter base in the country and involving himself in the political process. This country has no place for Mr Qadri if the process of his choosing is not democratic. Moreover, leaders of political parties that hold public office in the democratic system send all the wrong messages by being in attendance at the PAT rally. Tahir-ul-Qadri has played this hand time and again; it is time to make himself politically relevant through the standard route if he wants to compete in the next electoral process.