Undeterred by arrest attempts, freezing cold and threats of possible police action, Minhaj-ul-Quran International chief Dr Tahirul Qadri set on Wednesday yet another deadline for the government to fulfil his demands which the latter has already rejected as “unconstitutional
”.The fiery cleric asked Chief Election Commissioner Fakhruddin G Ebrahim, whom he described as “honest but too old”, to voluntarily resign. Addressing his tens of thousands of supporters at D-Chowk in Islamabad, Dr Qadri renewed his call for the dissolution of Parliament and provincial assemblies and the formation of a neutral interim set-up. “The government has until Wednesday night to implement our demands,” he added.
Dr Qadri said the CEC is over 85, and too fragile to ensure free and fair elections alone. The other four provincial chief election commissioners, Qadri claimed, had political affiliations. “The provincial election commissioners are biased and a direct threat to free and fair elections,” the cleric stressed.
In an apparent attempt to quell conspiracy theories, Dr Qadri said his Tuesday’s speech and the Supreme Court’s order for the arrest of Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf was mere coincidence. I was unaware of any such decision before making my speech,” he told the participants of dharna, which entered its third day.
He added that he was ready to drop his demands if any of them were unconstitutional. Once again hitting out at the government, the cleric dubbed it as a corrupt administration which failed to deliver on justice, good governance and protection of human rights. He added that despite the government’s “attempts to deter him” he was not afraid of arrest or the use of force by the state.
Continuing with his charged rhetoric, Dr Qadri said, “They (the police) targeted us, fired gunshots at us, refused to register our complaint and I know they are planning to use force against the unarmed participants of the sit-in
”. He claimed that he had received reports that the authorities have arranged for a fund worth over Rs2billion for the sole purpose of dispersing the protesters within the next two days. “(You) people here have no fear. Instead, our strength has increased from yesterday,” Dr Qadri said.