Dr Tahirul Qadri unreigned imagination ran riot as he presented himself at a mammoth public meeting at Lahore on Sunday, envisaging drastic electoral reforms to be introduced by the suspiciously close deadline of January 10. The dual-nationality holding Canadian national chief of the Tehrik Minhajul Quran chief wanted the constitutional requirement for a candidate to be honest and righteous to be strictly applied to frustrate the prospect of re-election of the corrupt. Threatening mass convergence of four million Pakistanis on Islamabad to hold the present setup to account, Dr Qadri seemed emboldened by deep pockets. Desperate convolutions while interpreting the constitution permitted him to opine that the general elections would have to be held after 90 days of the dissolution of assemblies if the process of debarring the tax dodgers, the fake degree holders, the corrupt and the dishonest could not be completed within that period.  His words: “My only objective is to cleanse the political system of the filth, political monopolies and oppression and get the poor their due rights” rang hollow and were the overoptimistic simplification of a man marketing himself as a saviour. His address and intermittent ads in electronic and print media for days on end meticulously avoided saying anything concrete. His call for the involvement of the judiciary and the army along with political parties in the selection of an impartial caretaker government is jarring to the ears and downright dangerous. Dr Qadri has left none in doubt as to his purpose in offering his person as a rentable panacea for the challenges faced by Pakistan.

His sudden emergence on the political landscape of the country and the massive amount of money that must have gone into organising a big publicity campaign and managing a highly impressive public showing have raised many an eyebrow about his motives, his unequivocal denial of any internal or external backing notwithstanding. Dr Qadri may have pretended otherwise, but no one is buying into the charade he is so enjoyably conducting. The nation will not be fooled by those of his ilk.