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

Published: January 16, 2013
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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 (twitter.com/Rizvinator)

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