Tahirul Qadri suffers from an acute sense of anomie. He thinks that the social order is rotten- to be demolished- and a new structure is to be raised. He claims to have the plan to build just such an order. Therefore, he declared, “I am coming, at the peril of my life, to save Pakistan.” He arrived, on the 23rd of June, to lead the revolution, Imam Khomeini style. Soon however, he back tracked, after meeting governor Punjab, who is an appointee of Nawaz Sharif, against whom Qadri has declared war. What his next move will be is unpredictable, but what is known and predictable must be examined.

During the period 1997-98, Qadri was a coalition partner in Pakistan Awami Ittehad (PAI), under the PPP leadership. He had no vote bank of his own, but had a strong support base of students of Minhajul Quran Madrassas and Darul Ulooms, created by him, mainly in the province of Punjab. For example, to demonstrate his strength for the PAI jalsa in Peshawar in 1998, he packed up over forty buses with students and teachers of his Madrassas from the Punjab and crossed the Indus into Peshawar. Though he did make an impression, he cannot boast of winning even a single seat in the National Assembly except the one awarded to him in 2002 for supporting General Musharraf’s referendum.

It is the political and ideological affinity with Musharraf, which is the force behind Qadri’s movement. Musharraf’s close associates like Pervez Ellahi and Sheikh Rasheed are in-step with him in his revolutionary march towards a new social order in Pakistan. In fact, these ‘revolutionaries’ form part of the global force which has long remained active against political Islam in Pakistan, Egypt, Turkey and Algeria. They reject the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan and Revolutionary Islam in Iran. Their preference is for a secular Bangladesh. This is the ideological conflict which has been the root cause of the miseries of the Muslim World for over three decades.

The people of Pakistan have the right to know which school of religious thought Qadri belongs to, out of the dozen or so religious parties demanding different political systems for the country. Dr. Qadri rejects the present democratic order as rotten and hopeless, but the alternative he suggests is vague at best. His entire “approach” to revolution is against the fundamentals of the constitution and norms of democracy.

Asking for a revolution in Pakistan, which has yet not achieved full nationhood, amounts to courting disaster. No doubt change is demanded, because that is the verdict of the 2013 General Elections, which has thrown up the Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) as the third largest party in Pakistan; a moderate party with a political vision in harmony with the political ethos of the Pakistani nation, rejecting both secularism and religious extremism. Similarly, change also occurred in India, giving a U-turn from secularism to Hindutva, which means Hinduism, combined with extreme nationalism. This kind of change has been rejected by the Pakistani nation.

In fact, both Qadri and Nawaz Sharif appear obsessed with the “contrived change” which occurred on the night of 15th March, 2009, when the movement for the restoration of judiciary was joined by PML(N) and the threat of the march from Lahore to Islamabad created much effect. The march had hardly crossed over the Ravi bridge, when Islamabad bowbacked and accepted the demands of the movement; meaning thereby, that for General Musharraf the game was up. Nawaz Sharif feared that the game could be up for him as well when Qadri arrived in Lahore. Much to Qadri’s disappointment however, there appeared “no possibility of the kind of message from the Army, as on the night of 15th March, 2009.” A theatre so well orchestrated by him came to an abrupt end within nine hours of his arrival into Pakistan. What his next move will be is difficult to predict.

The surprising aspect of this whole episode are the nervous reactions of the sitting government in dealing with the situation created by Qadri in open defiance of rules of business, to bring about change through the power of the Madrassas and the lurking fear in Nawaz Sharif’s mind of the telephone call from Islamabad. Obsession and fear thus created the dilemma. Qadri tried to emulate the Afghans who used Taliban power, to checkmate two super powers within a period of three decades.” The Madrassas in Afghanistan have a history of their own, which spans over centuries, steeped into their values, traditions and sense of sacrifice, which has helped them fight and win one of the most torturous wars of all time. Qadri’s Taliban lack these qualities.

Living in a state of anomie is no good for Dr. Qadri, and to swim against the tide is dangerous, particularly at this time of turmoil and turbulence. Far better to ride with the tide and steer the way to a better future, free from exploitation and corruption.

 The writer is a former chief of army staff.