Qadri or no Qadri, the government brought this upon itself!

Published: January 16, 2013

The outcome is uncertain, however, the march has now rung the trumpet, and made a massive impact. PHOTO: REUTERS

Before I have dozens of cyber warriors leaping at me from all directions ,let me be absolutely clear; I am ‘not’ a supporter of Tahirul Qadri, and neither do I support any measures that could possibly derail the democratic process.

I do not condone a religious leader exploiting religious passions for political gains, but despite my pre-conceived aversion to the rally and Tahirul Qadri, I may have had a change of heart yesterday.

This was because of what I witnessed; the rally of at least a 100,000 protestors going strong, was the resilience of my nation and their resolve to not give up even when the odds are stacked against them. We are a nation who are pitted against the worst animals claiming to be humans; a nation called a failed state; a nation run by incompetent rulers who spare no chance at stealing what was never rightfully theirs.

Pakistani supporters of Canadian-Pakistani cleric Tahir-ul Qadri shout slogans during a protest march in Islamabad on January 15, 2013.(AFP Photo / Farooq Naeem)

Photo: AFP

People would ask me what it was that moved me that day; I saw the people gathered there, not to demand a religious coup or even ask for Tahirul Qadri to be the caretaker prime minister. Rather, their presence was a protest against all the injustice inflicted upon them in the last several years of the democratic setup.

They seemed exasperated, hanging on to a last straw, but had not given up. They merely needed a charge, and Tahirul Qadri provided them with that charge.

Pakistani supporters of Canadian-Pakistani cleric Tahir-ul Qadri chant slogans during a protest march in Islamabad on January 15, 2013.(AFP Photo / Farooq Naeem)

Photo: AFP

In this setting, if there is anyone to blame for whatever fate might have in store for the PPP, it is they themselves and their coalition partners.

The estimates about the numbers vary.

Rehman Malik insists it is 15,000 people.

To this all I have to say is, Mr Rehman Malik, I’ve lived in Islamabad for 20 years, and if you blindfold and leave me at a location, I will know my directions and distances. From the signal prior to D chowk, extending all the way to the Blue Area fly over were people as far as the eye could see.

They were organised.

In fact so well organised that their own teams had dissected them into groups. It was a beautiful sight to see the power of the people;  just the people, in its raw form so well disciplined and structured.

Pakistani supporters of Canadian-Pakistani cleric Tahir-ul Qadri hold placards during a protest march in Islamabad on January 15, 2013.(AFP Photo / Farooq Naeem)

Photo: AFP

Let’s not argue about the objectives of a single man here and focus simply on the power of the people. And as much as Tahir ul Qadri may be responsible for exploiting the passions of the people, he could not have done it in isolation to the hate they had already fostered in their hearts against the current regime, and the status quo.

A girl holds a sign as she joins supporters of Sufi cleric and leader of Minhaj-ul-Quran Muhammad Tahirul Qadri on the second day of their protest in Islamabad January 15, 2013.(Reuters / Zohra Bensemra)

Photo: Reuters

As for the political connotations, it is clear that this gathering of more than a 100,000 people, that is growing as we speak, will subside without having their demands met. There are rumours of various stakeholders forwarding the agendas of the march. Some experts in Islamabad are of the opinion that by supporting a popular Bharelvi leader the establishment is now distancing itself from the more hard-lined deobandi groups that are often alleged to be involved in terrorist activities.

The establishment is now trying to create a softer image of Pakistan’s Islamist political forces that are often attributed for violence and unrest in the country. Other quarters are of the opinion that both the judiciary and the military are in cohorts with Tahirul Qadri to pressurise the government and create an interim government that comes in as a stabilising force.

Riot police officers gather outside parliament during the second day of a protest by supporters of Sufi cleric and leader of Minhaj-ul-Quran Muhammad Tahirul Qadri in Islamabad January 15, 2013.(Reuters / Zohra Bensemra)

Photo: Reuters

Whatever happens, though, one thing is certain – the country is not moving towards martial law or direct military interference.

The military is too stretched on its own to be able to afford one and second, it chooses rather to focus on staying on the sidelines and allowing these political forces to run their course, through conciliation or confrontation.

The outcome is uncertain, however, the march has now rung the trumpet, and made a massive impact. The capital city of Pakistan is in paralysis, and women, children and the elderly are out there in freezing temperatures to voice their hatred for the status quo.

Pakistani supporters of Canadian-Pakistani cleric Tahir-ul Qadri rest during a protest march in Islamabad on January 15, 2013.(AFP Photo / Farooq Naeem)

Photo: AFP

Qadri or no Qadri, the government brought this upon itself and must look at its glorious achievements in the last five years to understand why such a large crowd has challenged their legitimacy in what they considered their own home.

Follow Ali on Twitter @alirizvi17

Ali Rizvi

Ali Rizvi

A producer for current affairs of a private television channel and freelance journalist. He tweets @rizvinator (

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Muzaffar

    you nailed it bro. Good job.Recommend

  • Pessimist

    A lot of these protesters need to realise one thing and that is unless they change themselves, there will be no change what so ever in Pakistan. We are always quick to blame the Government for their short comings, but are we any better? Are you genuinely telling me that this ”Revolution” will improve Pakistan?

    No, it wont. I always believe that betterment in our society will come from bottom up and not top down. You can have the best leaders in the world but unless you change yourself, it will be of absolutely no use. I just hope & pray people exercise common sense in the next elections. Recommend

  • tahir

    Earliar i was just told how easy that was to befooled a nation, now i am viewing all the mess by myself. Thus goes the “REVOLUTION” and curtailing the corruption mobs.Recommend

  • Umer

    yipee! He nailed it. cheers allaround. Hurah.Recommend

  • Amer

    Excellent reasoning and you said exactly what I was thinking! The number of people out on the streets of Islamabad tells us that it’s not just about Qadri, they are not all his followers but they needed a plateform to vent their frustration with this corrupt system.
    THIS IS IT!! If the people stay in the streets of Islamabad for about a month everything will change on the political landscape of Pakistan. Recommend

  • Syeda

    mashAllah lovely photos true representation of Pakistanis…

    May Allah tala keep u all safe in saa Allah…Recommend

  • 4WeeksFromNow

    lets see how many of these 100,000 people are going to be camped outside in the cold in 4 weeks from now, this is essentially an exercise in futility Recommend

  • Munir Hussain

    These are the best comments i have read so for.Recommend

  • Hassan

    100% Agreed We must support all these peopleRecommend

  • http://@adnanmudassar69 Rana Adnan Mudassar

    its an impressive piece of writing dear………Recommend

  • Interesting

    its always said that someone needs to come forward and bring change… and whenever a person ACTUALLY tries to come forward, why do we ALWAYS point fingers and defame that person?
    Guys, do not let people detrack you from what Tahir ul Qadri is saying, don’t just look at his passport and PR card, also open your ears and listen to what he has to say.
    And shame on us sitting at home, while these people are on the streets braving the cold. Really, shame on us. Recommend

  • Interesting

    dear pessimist, change comes from bottom to top? in this sad country, wherever the powerful ‘top’ sees any betterment in the poor, helpless “bottom”, they squash it so that not even a trace is left.
    Sorry to say but that’s the truth. Recommend

  • Muhammad Zahid

    Offcourse , Appreciateable and we must support all these by physically join them instead of seeing TV which is showing one sided picture. ” Wish you all the best for Pakistan’s bright future.Recommend

  • Muhammad Zahid

    Reality :

    We must support this revolution by physically participating in it instead of seeing TV which always shows one sided picture. We wish all the best to these peoples for bright future of Pakistan”Recommend

  • zara

    Mr.Qadri suddenly comes from heaven riding on the wings of angels of piety,truthfulness and justice;what an IRONY OF SITUATIONS through which this nation is suffering from years to years.Opinion leaders bafflling the emotions and intelligence of people.

    Wolud we be able to have leader amongst ourselves or we let them rise to that padestal; wherein he/she can feel and hear agony,pain and suffering of Poverty,being uneducated,being malnourished and being on the mercy of awared one ???????????

    Would we have leader without his inherited or earned EMPIRE?Recommend

  • Parvez

    The best write up on this whole tamasha, so far.
    Yes the government has brought this unto their own heads, but they don’t care because their pockets are full and their escape back door is ready. If the peoples wishes are to be fulfilled not one should be allowed to run through the back door.Recommend

  • ss

    you spoke my mind, whatever this corrupt govt. thinks ppl do want change, ppl gathered in Islamabad are just a fraction of the ppl who agree with demands of TuQ but have disagreement over their ways.Recommend

  • akt


    There is no third option before you . Qadary has come with an open agenda being supported by many both inside and outside of the country . He has potential to silence army , judiciary , and present government which were shaping the destiny of Pakistan so far .Recommend

  • Arryan Chudhary

    I appreciate you, but i think sir something is better then nothing. This protest has great impact for our other sleepy inhabitants.Recommend

  • omair shahid

    I agree first we need to change our self blaming every thing on the government is not right change starts from our self Recommend

  • Ujjwal

    Though I’m not from Pakistan but the way you’ve portrayed the current protest really touches upon the lives of the people of developing economy. The massive support for this movement is really an uprising against the corrupt order and to support for a new order that voices the real concerns of the people. This is heartening. However, lot of religious overtone in Qadiri’s speech and rumours of backing of military to Qadiri certainly raises deep concerns whether Pakistan is again being forced to an another military coup. The Qadiri’s voice for indefinite delay for election and asking military to intervene to form a caretaker govt are uncalled for. The solution lies in the democratic set-up itself and only in the democratic set-up. The people of Pakistan must exercise their voting power in a free and fair election to choose the right persons in the parliament. Going out of democratic set up will suppress the same voice for which the people are currently standing for. Recommend

  • Falcon

    I still think that conspiracy theories about TUQ are exaggerated. Most of the people behind him are from middle and lower classes of the society who have had enough of this bad governance. After all, they are not being violent, all they are saying is that we matter too. They are not asking to dump the democratic order, all they are asking for is reforms so that better government can be expected next time around. Recommend

  • akt

    Since Pakistan can’t manufacture her own revolution therefore the world community has donated a maufactured revolution in which engineers around the world has contribured their bit as in case of Drone . Some Psk and Indi engineers were involved in developing a tool capable for policing the globe . So far this manufactured good has been up to our expectation so may be the manufactured revolution .Recommend

  • Hasan Mehmood

    Irrespective of previous background, his real agenda I for am willing to forget everything and support him for his following utterances.



  • Umaima Peracha

    Very well written, in a nutshell!Recommend

  • Hasan Mehmood

    {The establishment is now trying to create a softer image of Pakistan’s Islamist political forces that are often attributed for violence and unrest in the country}

    If true its great news. All this talk of non violence / equal minorities rights / clear cut unconditional condemnation of suicide / sectarian attacks, focus on humane aspects of religion, avoiding mention of harsh penalties etc coming from a renowned religious scholar instead of widely condemned liberal / secular forces with low credibility is nothing less than a miracle. What more can we ask?Recommend

  • Citizen

    Agreeing with @Pessimist, no change can truly come if you don’t change yourself.
    Be the change you want to see. No form of government can stop corruption if you don’t stop it yourself as well.Recommend

  • Sorry Sir!

    @Pessimist: Your hypothesis is proved wrong through-out the human history time and again. Kindly read the history of civilizations little deeply this time. It’s one thing to tell nice thing to your kids or obedient followers but it’s totally different approach when a job need to be done on a dying or gravely injured person on an urgent basis like in a Casualty Ward or Emergency Room of a hospital. Thank you for reading my humble comment to this far!Recommend

  • Butool

    you spoke my mind. this is what i’ve been trying to say since yesterday.. but was left groping for words. your article will really help me put my point across. kudos to the resilience and courage of the Pakistani- something that this March has very evidently displayed.Recommend

  • Zeeshan Rasool

    Very unbiased approach on current situation, very well written. I hope we get through this without any violence!Recommend

  • khurram iqbal

    realy a true representation of fact, atleast u have shown the courage to do so i salute u. our politicains and so callled academicians are busy in finding flaws in either in Qadri,quantity of mob or in their demands. Dose this civilized crowed not represent the true nature of pakistanis ???????????? yes it dose. it shows that how much we are resilient to bad practices in a peaceful way. this is true democray. reqardless of this thing that the Qadri is either bralvi or anything else we shud have the courage to support this peaceful crowed who is there for last 4 days n did not disturb anything.Recommend

  • owais

    There are many braving chills incuding many women nursing toddlers with one thing in heart and that is to bring Change. What have all the politicians till now done for the nation?

    We Should at least respect of the people risking their life for the country and as it is a islamic country they are also risking their lives for Islam as level.

    May ALLAH be their protetor and the nexus of saints support them.Recommend

  • Shah (Berlin)

    Dear Writer,

    nicely put.

    The problem with our people is that we are the most confused nation in the world. We dont know wht we want. And almost every one has choosen a leader and one way or the other supports him rather than interest of Pakistan.

    I dont know who Qadri is. I also dont really care. I dont know who funded him. I dont actually directly support him, but this country is currently in a mess. The PPP and PML N should now know that the next rule wont be easy. If they will appoint currupted PM, the person would be removed.


  • Azhar hussain

    I pay salam from my heart to these peace ful protesters who r bearing all hard ships of this protest even their lives r indanger becuase what so ever thy r demanding govt is not ready to give them. If the artical 62 and 63 r implemented them these all wil be in jails . But as pakistani we should suport these people who r protesting for whole nation and if they get success in this protest then there wil be bigining of b new pakistan .i pray to allah that keep them in peace and bless nn them.Recommend

  • Ali Asghar

    We should support Mr. Qadri if we want change in system. Recommend

  • aisha

    if we will support a person like tahirul qadri then ofcourse their is chance for revolution in pakistan……….Recommend

  • Queen

    I do not want any revolution that can make the stock market of country crash within hours.
    I am against the method of exploiting the religious sentiments of others in order to gain political objectives.
    I want a leader to stand by me in my struggle, not someone who leaves me alone to brave the harsh weather.
    I do not want any Canadian national to tell me what is wrong with my country. Recommend

  • Sane

    Without support of any political party, Qadri mobilized near 100,000 citizens of Pakistan including women & children to stay for five days (four nights) in freezing temperature, is a success by all means. What they wanted? Nothing for themselves but for the whole nation. We all want fair people to be our lawmakers not the most corrupt ones. No law or no constitution can bring any change unless our MNAs, MPAs and leaders and office bearers of political parties are fair people. Does the prevailing system ensures that fair people shall lead to this nation? No, not at all. This system ensures that the most corrupt and criminal people go to assemblies.

    All prime political parties get united to Qadri menas they do not want any chnage and carry on with the current system which supports their evil designs. So, my fellow citizens, we lost one opportunity to see this country flourishing. We are hand in gloves with cheaters. We as nation do not want any change.Recommend

  • Haider (Canada)

    Don’t agree with the author. We should not support a movement that was aimed to sabotage the government, no matter what its strength is. By this standard, every Tom, Dick and Harry will begin to bring their people to Pakistan and this country will become even more of a banana republic than it already is. Surprised to see from the comments how naive our people our. Pity. Recommend

  • Queen

    @Haider (Canada):
    I agree. If we accept Dr Qadri’s movement then indirectly we are endorsing the fact that anyone form any country can come and dictate Pakistanis about the future. Recommend

  • Rex Minor

    People of Pakistan have seen first hand the sample of a direct democracy! Now Pakistan ruling leaders should show the key prerequisite of democracy and offer resignation for the thousands who lost their lives on their watch, including the minorities. This is called political responsibility for the events which they were unabe to control. Calling for military or Governor’s rule is not a democracy.

    Rex MinorRecommend

  • http://[email protected] Burjor

    Hassan Mehmood needs to be congratulated. His is the most correct view point. Recommend

  • stranger

    This just shows how much the middle class and the lower middle class is searching for a ‘messiah’ of some kind . The rich dont care .The low and mid classes are looking for some kind of Uthopia. Recommend