Lahore’s Wednesday show

The Wednesday show in Lahore was a flop. The main advantages were pocketed by the PPP, represented by Asif Ali Zardari

The frequent but furtive Toronto meetings reified into the London plan have come a long way since August 2014.The plan was made with the aim of bringing the incumbent government under pressure to spare General Pervez Musharraf the clutches of Article 6. The recourse adopted was to undermine the legitimacy of the incumbent government – on the allegation of rigging the general elections of 2013 – to the extent that a “third umpire” would intervene to make a judicio-military takeover possible.

Dr Tahirul Qadri caught the attention of the wheeler-dealers when he singlehandedly staged a protest under his “Save State Movement” in Islamabad in January 2013 before the general elections. Piqued by his revolutionary instinct, Dr Qadri yearned to make a Tehrir Square to bring a green revolution in Pakistan. The Arab Spring and Egypt were his immediate reference points. Nevertheless, his incendiary speeches made him the blue-eyed boy of the behind-the-scene actors, the real instigators of the London plan, be they General Ahmed Shuja Pasha or General Zaheer-ul Islam.

The much vaunted Baqir Najfi report is vocal only on the blood-soaked incident that took place outside the premises of Dr Qadri’s institute, Minhaj ul Quran, devouring the lives of a dozen of his followers. However, the report is silent on the real motive prompting Dr Qadri to follow the London plan, besides the past history of resistance offered by his institute to the state. The families of the deceased have not yet asked Dr Qadri for a blueprint of his plan and what he wants to achieve — without their permission or consent. His devotees remain blind to the astute sense of their leader and remain unlearned in the art of asking questions and impugning motives. This is how a tragedy is born. Blind faith and unflinching loyalty are a spring that ooze blood.

The ongoing agitation is a spin-off of the London plan, which helped General Musharraf to escape Article 6 by avoiding the pending trial for abrogating the Constitution. Since April 2013, General Musharraf was under a restricted from leaving Pakistan after he returned from self-imposed exile. The London plan paved the way for the flight of General Musharraf from Pakistan under the ruse of medical treatment in March 2016.

Since the conclusion of the London plan, two developments have come about. First, the requisite number of dead bodies of Dr Qadri’s followers are available. Second, the Faizabad sit-in staged by some religious groups has exposed the vulnerable belly of the incumbent government. Both can be rolled into one. There is a need to revitalize resentment in the people, marshal an enormous assembly, launch another long march, stage a sit-in and choke Faizabad chowk, Rawalpindi. Faizabad is also suitable because it is in Punjab, against the government of which Dr Qadri’s party, PAT, harbours grievances. D-chowk has served the London plan; Faizabad chowk will serve the offshoot of the London plan.

Since the conclusion of the London plan, two developments have come about. First, the requisite number of dead bodies of Dr Qadri’s followers are available. Second, the Faizabad sit-in staged by some religious groups has exposed the vulnerable belly of the incumbent government. Both can be rolled into one

When the London plan materialized in Pakistan, Dr Qadri craved to be the “leader of a revolution”, as depicted in the press release issued by the PAT Headquarters on August 10, 2014. Before the press release, during a press conference, the Chaudhrys of Gujrat endeavoured to convince Dr Qadri to join hands with them as an equal partner to launch the revolution to construct a Tahrir Square. Dr Qadri hurriedly left the press conference without any such announcement (or a joint declaration) and thereby left the Chaudhrys mortified. Later on, the Chaudhrys submitted to the leadership of Dr Qadri. The same happened with Imran Khan later on. This time again, the leadership role is vested in Dr Qadri. The rest are minions, who are offering support to him in the hope of bringing the incumbent government down before the Senate elections due in March. These minions have stooped quite low, this is embodied by Sheikh Rashid who announced to resign from the National Assembly after vituperating it several times.

The case of Sheikh Rasheed is of an unscrupulous politician who performs as a stooge to earn cheap publicity. This person has singlehandedly maligned politics in Pakistan. A few days ago, in Chakwal, he spoke to stir the masses in the name of religion to vote for the PTI in the by-election. The same malicious act he tried to do in the Wednesday show in Lahore. During the implementation phase of the London plan, his relevance was of acting as a bridge between the PTI and the PAT. Now, he is trying to be a major instigator of disruption and disorder, without realizing that there were vacant chairs staring right at his face on the Mall in Lahore.

At the occasion, Imran Khan made an interesting claim. He said that his party had mastered the politics of agitation by taking people to the streets and that he was ready to give some tips to Dr Qadri to make his movement successful. In the spell of pontification, he forgot that the originators of the London plan had selected Dr Qadri and not him as a veteran and potential long-march launcher. Moreover, in October 2016, Imran Khan baulked at coming out of his house to join his followers when he gave a strike call to lock down Islamabad on November 2. In the realm of protest politics, much credit goes to the ex-members of the Jamat-i-Islami (JI), such as Mian Mehmoodur Rasheed and Ejaz Ahmed Chaudhry in Lahore and Fayyaz ul Hassan Chohan in Rawalpindi who got disappointed with the JI and joined the PTI.

The Wednesday show in Lahore was a flop. The main advantages were pocketed by the PPP, represented by Asif Ali Zardari and co-represented by Aitzaz Ahsan, who not only tried to extricate the PPP from the allegation of being a friendly opposition but they also mollified Dr Qadri to forestall any of his diatribe launched against the PPP in the future. For the PPP, the boon was two in one.

 

The writer can be reached at qaisarrashid@yahoo.com