Tahrir in Islamabad
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Tahrir in Islamabad
In Pakistan, newsmakers abound. The latest is Maulana Tahir-ul-Qadri, who descended on Pakistan's political arena from Canada. A religious preacher who heads the Islamic school Minhaj-ul-Quran International and propagates "soft" Islam, Qadri was an associate of the Sharif brothers before leaving for Canada. He has returned just ahead of Pakistan's general elections this year. He hasn't found favour with either the Sharifs of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) or the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP). It's the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), the PPP's ally, led by London-based Altaf Hussain, which has joined ranks with Qadri to call for inquilab (revolution). Qadri shocked everyone with the attendance at his recent rallies. He has now given the federal government a January 10 deadline to bring about electoral reforms, or put up with his long march on January 14, with the promise of an attendance of 40 lakh supporters outside the National Assembly.
The Express Tribune reported on January 1: "The rally titled 'Safar-e-Inqilab-e-Pakistan' was held at Jinnah Ground [Karachi] and was also addressed by MQM chief Altaf Hussain via telephone from London... Qadri thanked Altaf and the MQM for accepting his party's invitation to join the 'million-man march' to Islamabad in order to 'give rights back to the poor'. Qadri said that he had invited all religious and political parties... to join the march but only the MQM responded positively... [He] said that Islamabad was about to become Tahrir Square on January 14. But, he stressed, the revolution will be peaceful."
It is rumoured Qadri is a spy for foreign powers while others allege he is a front for Pakistan's all-powerful army. Qadri has denied all allegations and insisted he has no backers, nor any political ambition. "My mission is to uphold the constitution of Pakistan. My mission is to restore Jinnah's true democracy... our agenda is the elimination of feudalism and capitalism," the report added.