Gone are the days when a friend visiting from abroad would bring you a nice watch or sweater as a present. Seems like the times are changing as Tahir-ul-Qadiri episode unfolds. The spin-doctor (he loves to call himself a Dr.), a Canadian national for the last five years, has given government an ultimatum until 14th March to implement his suggested constitutional amendments else he’ll march to Islamabad with.. wait for it… 4 million people! Yes, 4 million.
Commonly dubbed as Tahir-ul-Canadavi (a common jest at gatherings) and #TuQ (a worthy challenger to #TukTuk of Misbah perhaps) online, Dr. Tahir-ul-Qadiri is the new hot-item of Pakistani politics until he fades to oblivion again after his expected failure. After holding to successful rally at Minar-e-Pakistan, Lahore on 23rd December 2012 fuelled by the most successful media campaign in the history of Pakistani politics, TuQ wants to up the ante through his long march to Islamabad for his political reforms agenda.
But does he have the support of public? What is the reason behind his parashoot jump into Pakistani politics on 22nd December after 8 years? Although, he has financial means (thanks to Denmark and UK governments who support his organization), he lacks the key ingredient for his imported revolution, Egypt-style; support from the masses. His partner in crime (I can’t resist myself from using this word) is none other than two parties in the current coalition government – MQM and PMLQ. So practically, MQM and PMLQ, are supporting a TuQ long march for political reforms, against their own government. No one can make a mockery of current political lot better than they can do themselves.
On a more serious note, TuQ march is destined to fail despite several hints at backing by Zardari himself and foreign governments. Here are the reasons why:
1. MQM is a one-city party only: Karachi. Bringing people from 1800 km away to bring a revolution is a wet dream until you have the support from masses all over the country. In Cairo’s Tehrir Square (an example TuQ loves to quote for his revolution idea), people originated from streets within and then disappeared into. They were not sponsored, they were not brought in. They did not need convincing and someone telling them to bring the revolution. They were against a oppressive regime.
2. MQM and PMLQ are not reliable partners. They may take U-turn any time, especially MQM. This will leave the revolution dream high and dry.
3. Tahir-ul-Qadiri is not people’s man. He has shown his maximum strength at Lahore rally where attendance was quoted 90-100k by government’s official agencies. There is no likelihood that he can do it again and at any other place. In addition, these people were his religious followers of his organization Minhaj-ul-Quran and not political supporters. Different thing altogether. Jamaat-e-Islami, the biggest and most organized religious party in Pakistan, could only take 5% votes at the height of their performance.
4. Government’s machinary. Partnering with MQM to bring in people is a big strategic mistake as bringing people from Karachi will be almost impossible. If government decides to stop the march, it can stop the trains and block the roads. Imran Khan’s recent march to Waziristan suffered from same government tactics; the last 100 km stretch was blocked at several places and Imran Khan’s caravan could not cover the distance until the dusk. Government can use more severe means to completely block off everything to stop them, even in the last 300 km stretch from Lahore to Islamabad, if they want to.
5. Islamabad’s weather will be the biggest hindrance for the people who will come from Karachi. Again, not having support of the locals – from twin cities of Islamabad/Rawalpindi and rest of the Punjab – will prove to be fatal. Islamabad has severe chilly weather and the coldest Karachi can get is just 25 centigrades normally. Karachi wallas can not live on the streets in severe chilly and foggy weather for their masters’ own political agendas.
- MQM accepts Qadri’s long march invite (nation.com.pk)
- Qadri warns about interim setup before Islamabad ‘long march’ (thenewstribe.com)