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Dr Tahir ul Qadri And Politics

Dr Tahirul Qadri addressed a large gathering at Minar-e-Pakistan on December 23. As expected, promises and demands that can’t be implemented were made. One such demand was that the government must change all its present policies by January 10, failing which the good doctor would march onIslamabadwith four million people. So far I have not seen any long march that has sent the government packing.   The judicial campaign was successful because it demanded the restoration of the judiciary – not a change of government. The false promises made by Zardari and the somersaults in his policies also led to the crystallisation of the movement. Moreover, Zardari and his followers did their best to ridicule and belittle the judiciary, ultimately to their own disadvantage. The judiciary was successful and future governments would be wise to keep this in mind.   Dr Qadri’s speech was soon followed by a spate of comments, analyses and discussions, some in favour and some critical of him. The demands and threats did not seem to go down well with the public in general. Everyone knows that no mob or procession can change the government inIslamabad. This privilege belongs to the Triple One Brigade which can, with five trucks each filled with about 40 soldiers and two officers (one each for the Presidency, the Prime Minister’s House, the state TV station, Radio Pakistan and the airport) bring about such a change within an hour or so.   If Dr Tahirul Qadri wants to change the government and the system as a whole, he will have to do so by peaceful means and through the ballot. We have seen many ‘raids’ onIslamabadin the past, which have caused much inconvenience to the public and damage to public and private property. Furthermore, any action against the law and/or the constitution would have a severe backlash, possibly leading to a law and order situation and anarchy.   Nawaz Sharif had a golden democratic opportunity to form the government, but his lack of political foresight and his inflexibility brought disaster to the country. By refusing to work with the Chaudhry brothers he virtually extended his exile from the government from 10 to 13 years. The Chaudhry brothers were once considered to be pariahs, but Marvi Memon, Amir Muqam and others like them are now partners. Nawaz Sharif deceived the public in saying that he was acting to save democracy, which did not exist in the first place. All he was actually doing was to protect a one-man dictatorial rule.   In politics, a wise player will keep all options open. They are able to calmly face criticism and harsh comments and ultimately outplay their opponents. Short tempers and outbursts make more enemies than friends. A good politician needs to be able to not only understand the current situation, but also have the strength of character and willingness to show flexibility and to comprise. Nawaz Sharif, unfortunately, failed to do so.   One should learn from President Zardari. See how calmly he accepts the criticism of his adversaries, and then goes on to do whatever he thinks is good for his own interests. While his party workers are allowed verbal battles with the opposition, he has kept the MQM and the PML-Q within his fold by showing flexibility and has managed to rule the country for more than four years with just 125 seats in the National Assembly. He keeps his workers under tight control.   If anyone violates his policies, the axe falls. Babar Awan and Gilani are the most conspicuous examples of this. Both of them ridiculed the chief justice and the Supreme Court. Gilani was becoming too big for his boots, even telling the speaker, a PPP stalwart, that only she, and nobody else, could send him home. When she ignored the Supreme Court ruling and did not send the case to the CEC for action, he went so far as to say that the matter of contempt of court was past history.   A 15-second Supreme Court judgement cut him down to size. Baber Awan too was ridiculing the court, and see what happened to him. The present prime minister and law minister are now showing due respect, following the law and, consequently, are still in office. Altaf Hussain overreached himself. However, he soon realised that this created a law-and-order situation. The Supreme Court, on the other hand, has all the trump cards in its hand and could quite easily turn Altaf Hussain into a second Gilani. Dr Farooq Sattar should be careful he doesn’t become a second Babar Awan.   The MQM should have approached the Supreme Court if the party had any reservations about the demarcation of constituencies. It is never wise to incite uneducated masses and to bring them onto the streets, where they will only indulge in vandalism. People have not forgotten the events of May 12 and the culprits can still be brought to book at any time. Quaid-e-Azam never preached lawlessness, and never indulged in lies or hypocrisy. Nevertheless, he achieved what no other world leader had done in modern history.   Coming back to the meeting at Minar-e-Pakistan, the reactions were very much the same as when Benazir Bhutto landed inLahoreduring Gen Zia’s time. Shortly after her landing, Gen Zia, his close friend and adviser, Gen Zamin Naqvi and I were travelling to Kahuta in my red Cherokee Jeep. There were no security personnel with us. On the way, Gen Naqvi touched upon the topic of Benazir’s procession, said that it was huge and that it could create problems. Gen Zia just smiled and said that an air-filled balloon always looks big but when deflated, it is no more than a small piece of rubber. We all saw what happened after Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was hanged – nothing at all! Nothing happened in the country.   This public meeting inLahorewas indeed impressive, but one should not draw illogical conclusions or use it as a yardstick to put forward demands or make threats. That is not a sign of maturity or good judgement. Dr Qadri had called me fromCanadaand two of his delegates made repeated phone calls and sent text messages to invite me to attend the gathering. I was already committed to be the chief guest at a function of theInstituteofEngineersinKarachiand did not want to cancel the visit.   They are my colleagues and I am proud to be one of them. However, I did invite the honourable doctor to tea whenever he visitsIslamabadin the near future. Some of my party workers did attend the function, just like those of many other parties, to listen to Dr Qadri’s thoughts and programmes.   Email: