Dr Qadri's clarion call
08 January, 2013
By Saeed Qureshi
If Dr Allama Muhammad Tahirul-Qadri can bring about a change for the better in Pakistan, it should be diligently welcomed. His political party Pakistan Awami Tehrik (PAT) that he founded in 1990 outlines the mission "to introduce the culture of true democracy, economic stability, improve the state of human rights, justice and the women's role in Pakistan". The PAT also aims to remove corruption from Pakistani politics.
If the chickens come home to roost, let them. Why there is an uproar that he is a Canadian citizen and that he had forfeited his right to delve in Pakistan's politics. By living in Canada he has not been doing any fruitless or objectionable activities but spreading the message of Islam and humanism. I am also not ready to buy the argument that he has come to Pakistan with some hidden nefarious agenda at the behest of the powers and elements inimical to Pakistan. Let us take his words on the face and tend to believe that has come back to Pakistan with a well defined and upright agenda to steer this country out of the dark woods, put it on the right tracks and initiate a movement that might set Pakistan on a desired yet ignored course. If his intentions are exposed as malicious and a ruse to serve the antagonists of Pakistan, then he would be the one to suffer irreparably in reputation. Thereafter he will have no place in Pakistan as a scholar, mystic, or a politician.
I would prefer to forget what he has been doing in the past. What I have to care is what he is going to do for Pakistan and Pakistani nation. Will his clarion call and envisaged mission of setting the things right would galvanize the marginalized and dispossessed people of Pakistan? Has he the guts and thrust to make the people a valiant force to fight for their rights against the selfish, ravenous leaders, crook bureaucrats, greedy business robbers and defiant enemies of peace and social harmony? Would he emerge as a bulwark against the cult of phony and fraudulent rulers whose only penchant has been to loot and plunder the national wealth, promote nepotism, and nurture all the vices that are attributed to Pakistan and that have turned Pakistan into uninhabitable and dreaded place.
If through a system of choosing honest leaders, he can seize the bull of bribe and corruption by horns and straighten those who bilked billions by abusing their powers and authority then he should be supported. It is for the first time that a liberal, religious scholar from among the ignorant and fanatic mullahs has opted to achieve a breakthrough that would deliver the nations from the clutches of obscurantism, fundamentalism and orthodoxy. Allama Qadri speaks and vouches for true democracy, human rights, an electoral system free from rigging and hijacked by the moneyed classes and individuals.
The mammoth crowd that came to attend his address at the public meeting at Minar-e-Pakistan on 23 December eloquently vouches the glaring fact that people of Pakistan want a change from the stagnant, unsafe, and egregiously sinister way of life. The life in Pakistan is getting traumatic and miserable and harder for the people. Dr. Qadri must have come to this empirical and objective conclusion that it is primarily the leadership that can transform the destiny of nation and make it honorable, strong and prosperous. It is the honest leadership that creates a system of governance that is transparent and in accord with the interests of the country and aspirations of the people.
Now the electoral system is not only flawed in Pakistan but it is outright wicked and monstrous. The elections are blatantly rigged. The ballot boxes are not only stuffed with ballots of the strong candidates but the ballot boxes are swapped. The bogus votes are cast without any let or hindrance. But what makes the electoral system in Pakistan a sheer mockery is that the serfs, tillers, and bonded farm labors cannot vote against the local lords be it a petty landowner or a super duper feudal. Moreover, because of the deprivation, poverty, inferior social status, the votes for a pittance can be easily purchased.
The Thana culture pays its pernicious part. A common man in villages and slums of the cities cannot have enough courage or clout to defy the dictations of policeman who is usually henchmen of mill owner, a retired bureaucrat, a ruthless feudal lord and the government functionaries. The clan, the biradari system, the family and blood relations, the kinship plays an overwhelming role to tilt the results in favor of corrupt, morally bankrupt, degenerate leaders. Such elected representatives use their influence and power to enhance their wealth, get lucrative contracts, and benefit their relatives and friends in several ways. They break and bend laws for amassing as much money as he can. In his brazen loot there are other partners that share the booty. It is this spooky and perverted and wholly faulty system that Dr. Qadri wants to rein in and make it transparent and clean.
Now if PMLN leadership denounces his endeavor as derailing the democratic bandwagon then it is a partisan assessment because a democratic order must spawn and produce honest and patriotic leaders who are dedicated to the welfare of the people and not filling their own coffers already brimming with ill-gotten wealth. Dr. Qadri has rocked the prevailing rotten system and its proponents and that is why there is cacophonies hue and cry to revile him as being a foreign agent or enemy of democracy and with a hidden agenda aimed at postponing the elections. His mission is somewhat akin to the social activist Anna Hazare of India who single-handed rallied the entire India against the menace and curse of corruption. He may not fully achieve the ultimate objectives of his crusade but at least he has blazed a trail that would serve as a beacon and the first vigorous assault on financial immodesty that is as widespread in India as it is in Pakistan.
Let us hope that Dr. Qadri stands his ground firmly and does not budge under any threat or pressure. If he can assemble half of the promised four million protesters and marchers for his rally in Islamabad, he would have made the dent in the powerful citadels of the corrupt, greedy law breaking, exploitative classes and individuals in power. The rest could be a self propelling trail of landmark developments that might pave way for a Pakistan that we all dream to be. If he is arrested that might open a Pandora box of hazardous ramifications. Is that what the government would expect to postpone the elections to stay in power till the dust settles down? Who knows!
The writer is a senior journalist and a former diplomat.