Govt warns Qadri of Taliban threat to long march
08 January, 2013
ISLAMABAD: Taliban militants have threatened to attack a rally for election reforms, to be held in Islamabad next week, Interior Minister Rehman Malik said on Monday.
Tahirul Qadri, an influential religious leader, vowed last month to lead a "long march" protest on the capital from Lahore if the government fails to begin electoral reforms within three weeks. "Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has threatened to attack the long march," Malik told reporters in a joint press conference with Qadri. "But we will not stop the long march and (we will) provide them full security," Malik said.
TTP spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan however denied the group had threatened to attack the protest. "This is not true, we have not issued any threat to attack the long march," Ehsan told AFP by telephone from an undisclosed location. "We have no comments for the long march," he added. Qadri vowed he would not waiver from his mission to stage the protest. "The long march will take place on January 14, God willing, and it will remain peaceful," Qadri said.
"Our mission is to strengthen democracy and pave the way for free and fair elections as enshrined in the constitution," he said, adding that he was opposed to any delay in the Pakistani elections due in May. Qadri leads the Tehreek-e-Minhajul Quran, which has a network of religious and educational institutions.
Malik said no obstacle will be created in the way of the long march and the government will facilitate it. Talking to newsmen after meeting Qadri in Lahore, he however said there are security concerns and TTP has given threats of attacks on the long march. He noted, "I didn't ask him to call off long march. I directed IG Islamabad and chief secretary to make security arrangement." He said no obstacle will be created against long march of Dr Qadri but we will facilitate it.
The minister said he has written to the Punjab home secretary, telling him that it is the responsibility of the Punjab government to escort foolproof security the long march participants. He said he did not come for holding dialogue with Dr Qadri but to apprise him about the security concerns. Qadri reiterated that a peaceful long march would be held on 14th of this month and warned that there is no guarantee it would remain peaceful if attempts were made to sabotage it.
He said he was ready for talks only with the prime minister and senior members of his cabinet. He said nothing of his charter of demand is against the constitution or intended to derail democracy and delay elections. He said he only desired that the electoral process goes in accordance with the provisions of the constitution. In a letter sent to provincial governments, the Interior Ministry has directed the four provinces' IGPs and other law enforcement agencies to remain alert in this regard.
KP PA passes resolution against Qadri march
The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly on Monday unanimously passed a resolution against Tahirul Qadri's proposed long march and condemned attempts to derail democratic process in the country on the pretext of bringing electoral reforms.
The resolution asked the Election Commission of Pakistan to continue preparation for the upcoming polls. Representatives of all political parties joined hands to table the resolution moved by PML-N's Javed Abbasi.
It was singed by Senior Minister Rahim Dad, Qaumi Watan Party MPA Sikander Sherpao, JUI-F MPA Mufti Kifayatullah, PML-Q MPA Qalander Lodhi, Law Minister Arshad Abdullah, representing the ruling ANP.
The resolution was directed against Qadri, who has announced a long march on Islamabad next week to press for electoral reforms and "real democracy". The legislators also urged the political leadership of the country to unite against "hidden forces bent upon derailing the democratic set-up".