Sunday, April 20, 2014


Pakistan

Who Stands To Benefit From Qadri's March?

Tens of thousands of supporters of cleric Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri gathered at a protest rally in Islamabad on January 15.
Tens of thousands of supporters of cleric Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri gathered at a protest rally in Islamabad on January 15.
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By Charles Recknagel and Daud Khattak
The protest march led by Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri has electrified Pakistan by throwing a wrench into the government's plans for an orderly run-up to new elections.

But it also has raised a storm of questions about why the influential Muslim cleric is doing what he is doing, and whether he is working on his own or at the behest of others.

On January 15, Qadri, who is known internationally for his condemnation of terrorist groups, assembled a crowd outside the parliament building in Islamabad that the Pakistani media variously estimated at 30,000-50,000 people

For the crowd to disperse, Qadri said, the government would have to resign. He also demanded the formation of a caretaker administration that would be acceptable to all of the country's key players -- its political parties, judiciary, and military -- to take over the reins of government immediately and lead the way to the polls.

Raising Suspicion

Some analysts suggest that Qadri's inclusion of the military has raised suspicions about his intentions even as his antigovernment protest voices widely-felt dissatisfaction with the current government's performance.

"There is already a lot of discontent in the country, so Qadri sort of exploited that sentiment with this march," says Raza Rumi, director of the Jinnah Institute, an Islamabad-based think tank. "But the problem is that his demands are those which have always been articulated by the military in the past. So, basically, this is why there has been so much speculation in the media and elsewhere that Mr. Qadri might be acting on behalf of the military or might be wittingly or unwittingly contributing to their agenda."

Rumi notes that "all elections in Pakistan have been overseen by the military except in 1977, and even that government was annulled by a military dictator." The upcoming election, whose date has not yet been set, was expressly intended not to include the military as a key actor.

The speculation around Qadri's motives is increased by the fact that he has only recently returned to Pakistan after spending seven years based in Canada, where he heads a worldwide organization which promotes education in the Islamic sciences.
Muhammad Tahir-ul QadriMuhammad Tahir-ul Qadri
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Muhammad Tahir-ul Qadri
Muhammad Tahir-ul Qadri

Qadri himself has not been active in politics since he founded a political party in 1989 and was elected to parliament under military leader General Pervez Musharraf in 2002. However, he resigned two years later, citing disillusionment, and his party currently has no members in the legislature.

Analyst Rasul Bakhsh Raees, a professor of politics at Lahore University of Management Sciences, says that Qadri espouses democratic principles that resonate with many in Pakistan who long for better governance.

But he maintains that the march to force the government to quit enables critics to level the same kinds of charges at Qadri that the cleric levels at the government.

"If an individual like him and people gathering in numbers cause a collapse of the government, this is not the way to go about reforming democracy," Raees says. "The best way to reform democracy is rule of law. But, unfortunately, rule of law has been a weak point of the government. They have not allowed institutions to function, like investigations against their own prime ministers and ministers, so they are responsible for the results of these actions."

Questions Over Funding

Not least among the mysteries surrounding Qadri is where he obtains his funds.

Media reports have buzzed with allegations that he receives outside support as he spent heavily on television advertising ahead of his march to drum up support. On January 12 "The New York Times" quoted one opposition senator as telling it privately that Qadri had spent some $4 million up to that point.

Qadri himself says that he articulates the demands of the dispossessed and that it is they alone who contribute to his cause.

As Qadri's protest marked its second day on January 15, he vowed that his supporters will stay in the capital until the government steps down.

Many of his supporters came to Islamabad equipped with blankets and slept in the streets of the capital after arriving late on January 14. Both the cleric and the government now seem prepared for a long siege.
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Comments
     
by: Alex from: LA
January 15, 2013 20:37
The West hasn't announced who is behind Qadri? Canadians Ehh!?!? Or is it IRAN? Is this going to turn into Agro style, I mean 1979 style take over of government, and become a second Islamic Republic of Pakirania??? I'm Waiting for my country to point a finger at someone before I form my opinion, NOT!!! It's obvious that the radical Islamist are behind this all the way... and Pakistan is already nuclear so what's up doc, USA... Are the nukes safe? That's my concerns, because i don't want to see an orchestrated nuclear 9/11, anywhere on earth, and more protracted un-winnable wars that will decimate our economy even further down the toilet bowl...
In Response

by: Yamina from: Toronto
January 16, 2013 16:14
He's against the Radicals if you read this article then why would the radicals be behind him.
In Response

by: Imtiaz from: Karachi
January 17, 2013 05:39
Dr. Qadri is representing moderate Islam, he is the only scholar who came out loud and clear against terrorism & Extremism. He is facing life threats from extremist groups. The peaceful protest he is doing is the voice of millions of Pakistanis and is exemplary in the history of modern world.
In Response

by: Siddiqui from: Charlotte, NC
January 17, 2013 13:35
You sound really educated the way you wrote your details. I really wished you had read and understood the dynamics before making a scholarly sounding comment on this. Radical in your definition does not meet the current situation in Pakistan. Please do your research before trying to be a scholar.

by: Hasan
January 16, 2013 13:50
It is in interest of the United States, India and the world for that matter to see a democratic and stable Pakistan. Let us hope democracy and liberty reign everywhere.

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