Lawmakers point all cannons at Tahirul Qadri
04 January, 2013
LAHORE: Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira said on Thursday that nobody was threatened by Tahirul Qadri's proposed long march.
Replying to questions at a media briefing after the cabinet meeting, the minister, without naming any department, said that despite a track record of involvements in the past, the quarters concerned have clarified that they had no link with Qadri's threat. He further said that the MQM or any other party, referring to the PML-Q, were coalition partners and not part of the PPP, and they can chose their own course of action.
The minister added that if a large number of people do come to the federal capital for the proposed march, there would be certain infrastructure and social issues. "But the majority of the participants of the rally would be coming from Punjab and it is necessary for the provincial government to act responsibly too," he said without clearly identifying the role Punjab government should play in this situation. Kaira also said that Qadri should be part of the system, and his statement regarding legislation by the Election Commission was out of context.
"Recommendations made by the political parties to the election commission are forwarded through the relevant channel to the parliament for lawmaking," he said, adding that Qadri should forward his recommendations regarding reforms to the election commission. He said that the next election will be held after March 16 and before May 15 or 16, as per the constitutional requirement. "Regarding the appointment of a caretaker government we will discuss it with the leader of the opposition at appropriate time."
Meanwhile, lawmakers on both sides of aisle in Senate, except the MQM, joined hands against Qadri for what they called his unconstitutional plans to derail democracy under the garb of electoral reforms' demand and cautioned against delay in elections saying such acts pose grave threat to the federation.
Although MQM's Col (r) Tahir Mashhadi asserted that his party does not want to detrack democracy through its support to Qadri's agenda, but he did not join the chorus in criticising him. The PML-Q lawmakers also remained silent, except for a brief intervention by Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed during the speech of Hasil Khan Bazenjo when he explained that PML-Q leaders had met Qadri because of old terms with him.
PML-N's Senator Mushahiddulah Khan dubbed Dr Qadri as a "joker and liar". He was later endorsed by Hasil Bazenjo who claimed that the Tehreek-e-Minhajul Quran chief wanted to disturb the democratic system of the country. Mushahid said that a person who does not meet the criteria to contest elections was pressing for electoral reforms, and referred to Qadri's dual nationality and a court order that declared him a liar in a case.
He even called upon the two political parties that have extended support to Dr Qadri to review their decisions, saying it would be tantamount to treason with the constitution. PPP's stalwart Senator Mian Raza Rabbani was more critical of Qadri and cautioned that if the federation is to be kept intact, then elections must be held as per the schedule. He even rejected talks of taking army and judiciary on board for formation of a caretaker setup and termed it unconstitutional, saying that army officials are under oath to keep away from politics.
Separately, challenging Qadri's doctrine, the treasury and opposition in the Punjab Assembly got united for the first time on Thursday with all their political spirit against anti-democratic forces and their conspiracies and unanimously passed a resolution, urging the federal government and the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to hold elections on time. Members from both the benches also demanded that the government arrest Qadri and register an FIR, under Article 6 of the constitution of Pakistan, against him over violation and disrespect of 25 articles of the constitution.
Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf on Thursday said the Pakistan People's Party-led coalition government will not let any one derail democracy in the country. "The coalition government is going to complete its tenure and is heading towards elections," the prime minister told his cabinet members in a meeting held here at the PM House. Raja said the government considers elections as "Amanat" (trust) which will be conducted in accordance with the constitution.