Dr Tahirul Qadri is at it again!

Published: June 23, 2014
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Express News screengrab of Tahirul Qadri in his plane.

Over 100,000 people poured into the twin cities to welcome the internationally acclaimed cleric and prominent political figure, Dr Tahirul Qadri. The Benazir Bhutto International airport, one of the most vulnerable airports in the country, has been on high alert for some time now, due to the fear of an insurgency attack. 

Islamabad’s airport has an extremely limited amount of space to accommodate passengers; with very little parking space and hyped up security, vehicles normally have to queue up outside the airport territory and end up blocking two general lanes of the main road leading to the airport which leads to a lot of commotion. This, in itself, becomes a major security concern.

With such a situation, no sane local government would allow an important public figure to land in the area, become vulnerable to open threats and be the cause of added disturbance. Yes, in Dr Qadri’s case, the government may have had their own agenda to prevent him from landing in Islamabad.

Whatever the case may be, Dr Qadri resides in Lahore and has a large following in all major cities, especially Lahore and Karachi. The airports, in both these cities, are located on the outskirts of the city and have the capacity to accommodate larger crowds. In light of that, wouldn’t it have been easier for Dr Qadri’s followers to come and welcome him in either Lahore or Karachi?

But, despite knowing the limitation of the airport, Dr Qadri chose to land in Islamabad. Why?

Before he embarked the plane from London, Dr Qadri stated clearly that he did not intend to have any public gathering or sit-ins in Islamabad, nor did he have any intention to provoke his followers to be violent. Why, then, did he choose Islamabad, knowing that it could turn ugly there if the situation is mishandled even the slightest bit?

His speeches, too, are full of contradictions. At one point, he addressed the establishment of the country and said that he supported their agenda and stood by them. But, at the same time, he also stated that if he were killed during his visit to Pakistan, his followers must not stop until the revolution has taken place – a revolution which calls for destabilising the present government.

On the face of it, it seems Dr Qadri did in fact plan to demonstrate public strength in Islamabad and intended to travel to Lahore via the historic GT Road, accompanied by hoards of his followers. Unfortunately for him, his plan was quickly discovered and foiled.

But how, if at all, would such a demonstration have benefitted the local people? He may have travelled business class from London to Islamabad via Dubai, but travelling via road, on a 282-kilometre-long journey, accompanied by multiple cars and security personnel would only have resulted in a colossal wastage of tax-payer money. He should have weighed the practical implications of such a ‘grand entrance’.

At the same time, Dr Qadri’s decision to stay on the plane until enough ‘security’ was granted to him was not only detrimental to Pakistan’s image globally, but also acted as a burden on those passengers who were to board the same flight to return to Dubai. After the entire fiasco, there are passengers still waiting at the airport, not knowing whether they will be able to fly to their destinations today or not.

The Lahore airport was supposed to operate at least 10 domestic flights, along with another 14 international ones to Central Asia, Europe and the Middle East. All these flights have been delayed, cancelled or re-routed to other nearby airports. Around 2000 passengers, foreigners included, have been affected due to Dr Qadri’s actions.

The government had taken all necessary precautionary measures, which included blocking roads, banning cellular services and also considered disconnecting social media services temporarily, just so that the political figure could get home safely. Yet, Dr Qadri seemed to have taken it upon himself to single-handedly make the aviation sector suffer, not only in terms of monetary losses but also with their reputation.

What if the international airline, on which Dr Qadri was aboard, had threatened to discontinue its flights to Pakistan? This would have been the second international airline to discontinue its operations in the country. But why would that bother Dr Qadri? He doesn’t live in Pakistan, so why would it bother him how Pakistan or its image suffers? He is more inclined on bringing a ‘revolution’ to ‘uplift’ Pakistan’s image.

Let us all be a little realistic and understand that whatever it’s downsides, Pakistan is a sovereign state, and no one has the right to challenge its rit. I do not, in any way, advocate that the government’s decision to divert the plane was right, but with the mindset present in the ruling elite, like Dr Qadri, this is the best the government could have done to handle the situation. The least we can do is side by the presiding government, after all, we voted these guys in, didn’t we?

Jawad Nazir

Jawad Nazir

An idea entrepreneur, a youth activist, a philanthropist, a policy advisor, aviation researcher, a speaker and a community worker from Rawalpindi, Pakistan. A graduate of journalism and political science from the University of Punjab, Lahore, he is currently pursuing an honors degree in brand management from the Foundation University, Islamabad. He tweets as @jawadmnazir (www.twitter.com/jawadmnazir)

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

  • Fuck da sharifs

    Are you not tired of these corrupt leaders looting your country for the past 40 years. Its because of clised minded nawaz sharif supporters, like you pakistan is where it is. Its time you woke up and figured it out…Recommend

  • نائلہ

    This guy wanted the army- which has its own job to do, to come take him to his residence ‘safely’. The country is in WAR and he is worried about his own safety. If you were so worried, then why did u come to Pakistan dear TUQ?

    He successfully did what the Taliban couldn’t do- hijack a plane. On top of that, pmln, being what it is, forces the plane to be diverted. Great. Now even emirates might reconsider coming to Pakistan.

    Such a head ache, this man. He craves attention people, stop giving it to him. Recommend

  • نائلہ

    Lol just remembered abrar ul haqs song: ‘GT road tey breakan lagiyaan’ Recommend

  • Humza

    Do you not realize that the nation has finally started to rehabilitate itself as a democratic state and did far worse under dictatorships. Look at how 10 years of Musharraf dictatorship made Pakistan look like another Banana Republic in the Muslim world run by a king or general. Now at least the system can evolve to be a democracy but it will take a few cycles to mature. People like you don’t want to give the system a chance. Why do you think Tahir ul Qadri ran off to Canada and swore oath of allegiance to British Queen and to respect democracy there? Obviously it is a better system of governance. Instead he wants to fight democracy in Pakistan which is shameful.Recommend

  • Saira Samdani

    Why don’t you blame government for mishandling the issue. It was same Qadri who was awesomely handled by Zardari last year. And these so called leaders having years of experience in politics, they don’t even know how to handle issues like these. Killings of 8 people in Lahore and now this drama. Shame on Shareefs.
    And btw, I am not AT ALL a Qadri or Zardari supporter.Recommend

  • Critical Thinker…!!!

    Wht…I dont now in which Pakistn are you living. Musharraf time people were more free than the Democracy we have now……Where once our predident put a ban on any jokes against him (Zardari jokes) or Protestors brutally being killed by the government or Govt not allowing a plan to land……If this is not Banana Republic than wht is..?????Recommend

  • Critical Thinker…!!!

    You are right but the government mistake is also huge enough…Y did they divert the plane and cause all the tension…They have already killed 9 of his supporters…!!!
    Both are dramas and ppl will pay the cost …if emirates cancels its air line thts a huge problem..!!!Recommend

  • Black

    Spot on, Jawad Nazir. The Drama Queen was unable to see the economic cost of such an episode when he decided to play the center of everyone’s attention. He was unable to see it because he has all the financial help from his “supporters”, he sat in that plane as if he owned it as well as the entire aviation sector. He had his fun. Now someone should just take him to court for the monetary damages of this entire fiasco. Ideally the government, the aviation sector, the private airlines, all of them can take Mr Qadri to court for causing serious delays, sufferings of thousands of travelers (domestic and international), loss of reputation of the Pakistani aviation sector, etc. The delays and the economic costs were caused not by some natural disaster or some terrorist attack. It was all due to the stubbornness of one man and his refusal to cooperate with the government and security forces. When he had openly and repeatedly blamed the government for any potential attack on his life, the government had to beef up security and take extra measures to secure his arrival. Mr Qadri was just having fun!Recommend

  • Miski

    Yeah . Government has Failed to handle this thing,

    But you cant gave credit to Zardari Gov. and for your kind information Zardari rule was to ” feed everyone ” . and his tenure was going to end and he knows that he has done what he wanted to so he didn’t give a damn to Respected Tahir ul qadri, I don’t know why Government is giving him so much attention. Just give him free hand ,Recommend

  • Areeba

    For God’s sake people, instead of condemning the act done by the gov’t of diverting the flight, which actually is the root cause of all this scenario, we are blaming Tahir-ul-Qadri. That’s pathetic.Recommend

  • Jumrud Khan Afridi

    He wanted the army to provide safe passage. Not be blown up, assassinated
    on his way home. Just like Musharraf road’s to chak Shehzad was pronounced
    all clear. By Shahbaz’s ‘police’. After Musharraf passed, on way home from hospital 8 second later there was an IED explosion Something that the “police”
    had swept over. Declared safe. 9 unarmed civilians were shot dead by police.
    Qadri was considered a two bit player. Not anymore. He is a giant now.Recommend

  • raj

    its just a time pass folks.. the weather in canada is really bad so he is paying visit to pakistan. im sure he will be back to canada in summerRecommend

  • raj

    is it really democracy now ?? think again Humza.. you got to check the stats. this is not at all democracy when the media is not free, people are not safe, they can’t vote for their guy. They can’t afford to send kids for education. no health.Recommend

  • Asma Sajjad

    Dr Qadri followers I am sure have not seen his interview to Canadian Embassy about Namose Rislat Act where he said that he did not help in making this act and at another interview in Pakistan he said he forced Zia Ul Haq to do so. This interview is enough an eye opener about Dr Qadri. How could such a man could be even thought of leading this poor nation. Our current political leaders are better than him in the perspective of Emaan. Come on people open your eyes and pray To Allah Subhaanaa Wa Taala to Bestow us with best leadership.
    Our government must adopt a better strategy to curb with all kinds of threats to the state and nation. None should be allowed to even threat Pakistan and it’s people’s. Media did enough damage to the nation by honoring Qadri sahab last time please all media take sense and take efforts in making Pakistan and not in making more corrupt heroes becoz if anything worse happened to the nation you are equally responsible for making non hero’s, hero.Recommend

  • Queen

    Alas, people like Qadri never learn from history.Recommend

  • History Wanderer

    The self proclaimed “mullah” Tahir-ul-Qadri accepts (videos available on Facebook and Youtube) that all his religious education is done in his DREAMS, you heard it right, “in dreams” over 15 years by some scholar.

    And the funnier part is, the bunch of “mureeds” say wah wahhh.. :-D

    May Allah SWT enlighten the ignorant followers of Qadri and save us from such mullahs and their followers.Recommend

  • Tooba Tariq

    Wondering, what kind of ‘Inqilab’ he can bring!
    Having a strong Islamic background he had so little faith in Allah? Asking for a bullet proof car and an army squad to ensure his own safety to avoid encountering mishap was ridiculous. In worse case the idea of being a martyr for a proclaimed Islamist like him shouldn’t haunt so much.
    Sadly it is all a circus and this time he was the stunt man.Recommend

  • Neo

    Jawad, your expertise in aviation have well utilized a political touch. Good work. Proud.Recommend

  • Sane

    Please make TUQ to answer as what does he mean from INQILAB (Revolution) and how this will happen.Recommend

  • siesmann

    Mullahs always make a mess of politics.So does this one.What a time to launch his “revolution” when the country is fighting the war of its life?Not that the Government handled it any better.He has been given undue importance.Undeserving.Recommend

  • Qaiser Habib

    Agreed, TUQ wants Army for his personnel safety. While he endangered the safety of his followers. All the bloodshed due to the INQILAB is on his hands.Recommend

  • Saad

    Musharraf is a former president and chief of army, who exactly is Qadri?Recommend

  • Saira Samdani

    Exactly this is what my point is. Only they know why they are giving him so much attention. Whatever Zardari’s policy was, still he handled them with grace. He did what he wanted to do. Neither the elections got cancelled nor Qadri was able to gain people’s sympathy. Shareefs had not learned anything from their own mistakes too.Recommend

  • Muhammad Salman

    The image of AViation (CAA) which was already tarnished after Karachi Airport attached it is further tainted by the delay of Qadri’s flight at Islamabad. I think Govt should also file a case against Qadri for paying damages which resulted due his arrival in Pakistan. No doubt it rendered loss to CAA monetarily as well of goodwill.Recommend

  • Muhammad Salman

    How long we let everyone loose to violate the law. First of all, law needs to be revised.Recommend

  • Miski

    lol Yeah….If they had learned than surely Pakistan was in Better Position,Recommend

  • Miski

    Exactly , why he wanted army Security. and i remember last year When he did the Long March He was in the Bullet Proof Van,
    Come on Respected Tahir ul Qadri, you have Every Right to Do what makes you feel secure , But what was the Benefit of Creating Drama in an International Flight , You should clearly Join Hollywood or Pakistan Film Industry , I am impressed by your Passion , but you are wasting your efforts in Wrong DirectionRecommend

  • sterry

    What is pathetic is a cleric who ran away to Canada, swore oath of loyalty to British Queen and Canadian democratic laws can threaten the Pakistan nation by calling for Arab style revolutions which only brought misery to Arab countries! Can’t people see through the games of a guy who ran way to Canada but insists on travelling first class and disrupting life in Pakistan!Recommend

  • Iftekhar Khokhar

    Whosoever bungles the peaceful state of affairs, should be taken to task by the government. Tahir ul Qadri should first contest general elections to authenticate his stance.Recommend

  • http://www.twitter.com/jawadmnazir Jawad Nazir

    Thank you so much Neo, just doing my part.Recommend

  • http://www.twitter.com/jawadmnazir Jawad Nazir

    Thanks a lot Black, just did my part! :)Recommend