Tahirul Qadri marches on road to Islamabad
14 January, 2013
LAHORE: Tehreek-e-Minhajul Quran (TMQ) chief Dr Tahirul Qadri's long march for election reforms finally kicked off from Model Town after a delay of five hours from its scheduled time of 9am on Sunday.
The TMQ chief's tall claims of initiating the march with 400,000 people from Lahore proved false, as just around 8,000 people including women and children initially marched on the road to the capital on two hundred cars, buses, mini-buses, trucks and 100 motorcycles.
Two cranes to remove all containers, if installed by the government on the route; three tankers, fully loaded with petrol and diesel; and two trucks loaded with blankets and warm cloths to facilitate the marchers in the cold weather, especially during the night stay, had been dispatched ahead of the caravan.
Dr Qadri started his journey in a bulletproof jeep from his residence in Model Town. The The TMQ has also arranged for two luxury, bulletproof mobile homes costing Rs 15 million for Dr Qadri and his family.
After the departure, Qadri's small caravan covered around 20 miles within the city in six hours. The participants of the long march are, however, expected to grow in numbers as the caravan pass through towns and villages en route to Islamabad.
Due to the construction work near Data Darbar, the caravan was diverted. According to a TMQ spokesman, the caravan would spend the night in Gujrat and then leave for Islamabad in the morning.
Security across the city was augmented, while the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority also partially suspended mobile phone services to avoid any unpleasant incident.
Talking to the media before taking out the march after Zohar prayers, Dr Qadri strongly criticised the federal and provincial governments, claiming that they had tried to sabotage his "democracy march". He pledged that he would return only after ousting the rulers.
Commencing his march, he again unveiled his charter of demands, demanding installation of a caretaker set-up and electoral reforms, and the removal of the Election Commission and the Balochistan government on its failure to control law and order in the province.
The TMQ chief accused the Punjab government of seizing vehicles hired for the march and harassing party workers. He claimed that 10 of his security vehicles and 20 other vehicles reserved for the media had been snatched by the government, and that all cities were sealed to prevent the masses from taking part in the long march.
He claimed that trenches had been dug up and filled with explosives in Islamabad, and tankers filled with acid, petrol and CNG parked in the city to 'attack' the marchers.
Qadri also addressed a gathering in Shahdara and announced that his march would continue until its success, so there was no time limit to it.
Meanwhile, a Senator Pervez Rasheed and Law Minister Rana Sanaullah rejected the allegations levelled by Qadri regarding creating hurdles in the way of the caravan in Punjab.