Why Qadri jolts Pakistan politics before vote

Source:Huff Post

LAHORE, Pakistan — To his supporters, Tahir-ul-Qadri is a savior of Pakistan’s fragile democracy who will right the country ahead of elections expected to take place this spring. To his detractors, he is a shady religious figure bent on derailing the vote, possibly at the behest of the country’s powerful military.

After years in Canada, Qadri returned to Pakistan last month and gave a speech demanding that sweeping election reforms be implemented before the vote. His appearance in Lahore drew tens, possibly hundreds, of thousands of supporters into the streets. Since then, Pakistani media and political figures have closely followed his every word, and Qadri plans to lead his followers in a march on the capital next Monday.

Qadri, 61, is a charismatic Sunni Muslim cleric with a large following that extends outside Pakistan. He has a reputation for speaking out against terrorism and promoting his message through hundreds of books, an online television channel and videos.

Now, Qadri’s focus is on Pakistan’s election laws. He is suggesting vaguely worded changes, such as making sure candidates are honest as well as ending exploitation and income disparities so that poor people are free to vote for whomever they want.

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