LAHORE: Tehrik-i-Minhajul Quran chief Dr Tahirul Qadri has given Islamabad three weeks to announce an independent interim government which could hold fair and transparent elections within 90 days or more if required for the sake of meeting all mandatory constitutional conditions/obligations to have an honest, sincere and trustworthy leadership to steer the country out of crises under a real democratic system.
He also asked the government to ensure representation of the judiciary, military and all other stakeholders in the process of constituting an honest interim set-up and avoid keeping the exercise limited to only two political parties (PPP and PML-N).
“We give you a three-week deadline, up to Jan 14, in this regard. And if you do not accept our genuine demand, millions of people will start marching from Jan 10 towards Islamabad to hold a grand and peaceful protest rally there to press you till the acceptance of their demands for a change in the corrupt governing and electoral system,” Mr Qadri warned while addressing a huge public meeting organised by his party at Manto Park (Minar-i-Pakistan) on Sunday.
It was TMQ’s first biggest show of power here at a time when the country is heading for general elections. A large number of people, including women and children, came from various parts of country to attend the meeting.
Although the TMQ chief was scheduled to deliver his speech at about 2.30pm, leaders, workers and supporters of the party started reaching the venue from early morning. By 1pm, Manto Park was packed with people holding national flags and those who could not enter the venue gathered on roads around the ground.
“I have arrived here from Karachi with some of my family members and friends only for Qadri Sahib’s speech,” said Muhammad Shakil Raza Mehrvi.
“Really, we have come here for a real change in the country and hope Qadri Sahib can do this,” said Shafqat, from Rawalpindi.
Nagina Shaheen said she had come from Abottabad, along with her husband Shafqat and children. “No one sponsored our travelling or lodging/boarding expenses. We did this on our own,” she said when asked who had financed their visit to Lahore.
“Qadri Sahib’s agenda is not against any party or individual; it is against the prevailing system which is destroying our country,” she added. Dr Qadri’s speech was based on slogans “Siasat Nahi, Riasat Bachao (save the state, not politics) and “Nizam Badlo” (change the system). Terming the current political system most corrupt, he said since the system had failed completely to deliver, people would have to come out to change it.
“Look I have not come here to derail democracy. I want this country to be run under a real democratic system and not under a corrupt system that has almost destroyed our institutions. And we can change this by following Europe which is hub of a real democracy,” he said.
He cited the example of Italy where corruption was at its peak and said Europe’s higher judiciary had dismissed its corrupt government and installed an honest interim set-up which held the general elections in a transparent manner. As a result, a new and honest leadership emerged and ended corruption and put the country on the path of prosperity.
“And when our own Supreme Court has declared that the governments of Balochistan and Sindh and the federal government have failed to end corruption and maintain law and order they should no more function,” he said and urged the authorities to follow the precedent of Italy if they wanted to bring about a change. “Why we don’t follow this good practice for a change. And what is the harm if we follow this for the sake of bringing reforms in our country,” he asked.
Justifying his party’s one-point agenda of changing the system, the TMQ chief said the Constitution called for holding transparent general elections under certain conditions. “Articles 3, 9, 37, 38, 39, 40, 218 (clause-III), 62, 254 and others call for holding elections after ending all discriminations, violence, efforts for buying votes of Biradaris, ensuring security of people, social justice to all, impartial and threat-free voting, balance in distribution of wealth, ending corruption, discouraging sale of party tickets and banning the entry of corrupt politicians and tax defaulters into the corridors of power,” he said.
“I just ask the Chief Election Commissioner, Chief Justice of Pakistan, political parties and other stakeholders if they are following these constitutional conditions before holding elections,” he said and regretted that except for the article which called for holding elections within 90 days, no other articles were being followed. “Before holding transparent elections, these articles must be followed. Otherwise, elections will not be fair and people will see corrupt politicians again sitting in parliament.”
Dr Qadri said if the interim set-up required more than 90 days to fulfil these constitutional conditions and the court’s verdicts against corrupt legislators holding fake educational certificates and indulging in other misdeeds, the Constitution allowed it.
Rejecting a perception that he was working on an agenda of delaying elections, toppling the democratic set-up or paving way for another military takeover in the country, he said: “Today before this huge crowd, which is reflecting a mini-Pakistan at Minar-i-Pakistan, I say under oath that no-one from the military establishment, politicians, international power corridors or powerful mafia supported me or my party directly or indirectly to organise this event for a military takeover, packing up the government or democracy or violating the Constitution of Pakistan. “We have staged this show on our own with the donation of our workers, members and the people of the country. Some of them have come here for a real democratic change, corruption-free welfare state and for rule of law as per the Constitution after selling their gold ornaments or household articles, including cycles.”
Dr Qadri condemned terrorism and extremism and said Islam never allowed this. He urged religious extremists to do away with their endless mission and said he would not be with them if they continued to do so.
“I am with you if you demand the ending of drone attacks, addressing the law and order situation and ending corruption, killing of innocent people and intervention of external powers in our country’s affairs. But I will not be with you if you carry out terrorism,” he said and urged them to put an end to wrong practices and join the TMQ agenda for change.
Dr Qadri also took oath from people for marching on Islamabad and bringing about a change in the country.
Addressing international powers and communities, he said that since the prevailing system of governance had collapsed, the country was in a dire need of massive reforms. “Look my objective is not to derail democracy in Pakistan. In our country, the poor are becoming poorer and the rich are becoming richer. In order to end this gap as well as corruption, we need a massive restructuring of our state.”
Dr Qadri praised MQM chief Altaf Husain for sending a delegation of 50 legislators led by Farooq Sattar to the TMQ rally. He also offered Fateha for slain ANP leader Bashir Bilour.