By Saeed Qureshi
During the past two years, Allama Dr. Tahir-ul-Qadri has staged three large rallies in Pakistan. One was in Lahore on December 23, 2012. The second mammoth rally was in Islamabad on January 14, 2013, where his party workers and devotees staged a four-day sit- in agitation that culminated in an agreement between the then PPP government and Dr. Qadri. This agreement titled “Islamabad Long March Declaration” promised electoral reforms and increased political transparency. It was in fact a convenient face saving way- out for both the sides.
The latest third rally was held on June 17 this year at Model Town neighborhood in Lahore in front of the Dr. Qadri’s residence / Pakistan Awami Tehrik (PAT) secretariat. Tragically it turned into a bloody clash between charged members of PAT and Minhajul Quran on one side and the riot police on the other. This clash resulted in at least 8 deaths and scores wounded. In comparison the previous rallies were rather peaceful.
However, this ugly encounter seems to be immensely instrumental, though by default, in advancing Dr. Qadri’s mission of a revolutionary change. The Punjab government of PMNL has come under burgeoning pressure and looks like a culprit although seemingly the Chief Minister had no role to play in the police firing that was not intentional but spontaneous.
Dr. Qadri has spurned all government offers for a dialogue and rejected the formation of a judicial commission to probe the gruesome incident. On the contrary he alleged that the Prime Minister, Chief Minister of Punjab, IG Punjab Police, and certain ministers were behind what he termed as the ‘premeditated murder’.
The PMLQ stalwarts Chaudhry Pervez Elahi and Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain have announced their unconditional support to Dr. Tahir Qadri in his opposition solely to the federal and Punjab government run respectively by Mian Nawaz Sharif and his brother Shahbaz Sharif.
The deep seated political animosity between these two groups is a public knowledge. Imran Khan has too taken an unequivocal stand in favor of Allama Tahirul Qadri and even demanded resignation of the chief minister of Punjab and his law minister. His overtures seem to be merely fortifying the bulwark against Sharif brothers.
One may recall that a few days ago Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain and Ch. Pervez Ilahi had a special meeting and even press conference with Allama Dr. Tahir Qadri in London. Their blind support for Qadri’s mission is not a secret as Chaudhry brothers are sworn enemies of Sharif brothers. One could even assume that the PAT rally could be an offshoot of the complete understanding between two inveterate opponents of Sharif brothers.
As far Imran Khan, he is adept in blowing hot and cold in the same breath while demonstrating a semblance of political acumen or restraint least expected of a politician. The antagonism for the sake of antagonism speaks for the immature or myopic attitude of Imran Khan even debunking military action against Taliban in Waziristan. Thus by his mindless statements he rebuffs military anti-Taliban blitz. He doesn’t realize Taliban are the enemies of the people of Pakistan. They have been busy in destroying Pakistan’s assets and killed and maimed thousands of Pakistanis through incessant wave of blatant suicide attacks for almost a decade now.
On May 25, 1989, Dr. Qadri founded a political / religious party under the name of Pakistan Awami Tehrik (PAT). The manifesto of this party broadly is to “introduce the culture of democracy, promote economic stability, and improve the state of human rights, justice, and women’s roles in Pakistan and to remove corruption from Pakistani politics”.
His other organization that promotes and propels his objective of bringing revolution in Pakistan is “Minhajul Quran” a kind of religious forum. The professed objective and charter of this outlet is to “promote religious moderation, effective and sound education, inter-faith dialogue and harmony, and a moderate interpretation of Islam employing methods of Sufism.”
The manifestos of both PAT and Minhajul Quran put together, as Maulana Dr. Qadri claims is to unfold a green revolution in Pakistan. The green revolution also stipulates the revival of the Charter of Medina. The Charter of Medina also known as the Meesaq-e- Medina, was a formal agreement between the prophet of Islam Hazrat Muhammad and all of the significant tribes and families of Yathrib or Medina including Muslims, Jews, Christians and pagans. This constitution formed the basis of the first Islamic state.
Its main objective was to end the bitter inter-tribal fighting between the prominent clans of the Aus and Khazraj within Medina. The historic “Medina Accord” brought Muslim, Jewish, Christian and pagan communities in Medina under the fold of one fraternity named Ummah for the first time.
Dr. Qadri asserts that while the Charter of Medina laid down the foundations of an indivisible composition of the Muslim Ummah or nation, it also guaranteed fundamental human rights to the entire community irrespective of their religious or racial orientations.
Dr. Qadri envisions an “Islamic state as a Muslim-majority country which respects freedom, the rule of law, global human rights (including religious freedom), social welfare, women’s rights and the rights of minorities.”
The redeeming feature of Qadri’s mission is his resolute stand against terrorism which in regards to Pakistan is the religious terrorism of Taliban. It connotes that Qadri is a liberal and progressive reformer that shuns religious fanaticism propelled by the perpetrators through brutal means and terrorizing the people and by killing them.
In March 2010, Dr. Qadri issued a 600-page Fatwa on Terrorism, in which he scholarly dismantled and categorically condemned terrorism without any ifs and buts. He argued that terrorism and violence has no place in Islamic teaching and therefore no justification can be provided for it. Dr. Qadri can be portrayed as a religious moderate and a steadfast follower of gentle Sufi tradition. This aspect of Qadri’s mission, therefore, can be acceptable for the proponents of a modern liberal state and society.
Dr. Qadri aspires and struggles also for a Democratic revolution through electoral reforms in order to elect people of integrity, who will be subjected to a “pre-clearance” process to qualify for contesting elections to ensure that the candidates had paid their taxes and they had not defaulted on loans or gotten the loans written off.
However, Dr. Qadri should understand that the modern day societies are not like that of Medina when the society was in the process of making. The complexion of the respective societies and system are welfare oriented, mostly democratic and responsive to the people’s needs and aspirations. The political systems by and large stable and accountable and the governments come into being with popular franchise. The world community as a whole is prosperous and fraternal.
The international community is connected through fast and all encompassing internet technology. People are not drastically divided along religious lines, any more, barring a few Islamic countries. People enjoy countless privileges and rights that are enshrined in the constitutions of the respective countries even of the authoritarian regimes.
The power tussle is rife in several societies but people socially and economically are more liberated and contented. The countries in the present time are larger and more populous than the city of Medina 14 centuries ago. Even the present day Medina is a modern city, hugely populated and bustling with a galore of modern comforts and amenities. The Charter of Medina offers an explicit and shining moral and human guidelines and its theme is literally prevalent in better part of the world.
For example the Bill of Rights in the American constitution offers inalienable rights to all the citizens such as right of life, liberty, pursuit of happiness, freedom of speech, religion, assembly and petitioning the government. The man is no more slaves of the kings, and elite classes as was in the past. The rulers in many countries are elected by the people.
In majority of the societies social morality prevails, the judicial systems dispense justice and media is strident and powerful to spread information of what was happening every moment. Because of an integrated world every society and leader is under an unremitting accountability and watch. The world despite deficiencies acts jointly in case of crisis, calamity, war or disaster. The Medina Pact was solemnized in a primitive and limited society under very peculiar circumstances. Its revival is not needed as it is already being practiced on a much wider scale.
Dr. Qadri would look more credible and rather acceptable, if he pursues his moral and political ambitions within the framework of the constitution and law. To bank upon aggression and mobilizing people with powerful rhetorical speeches and show of self-righteousness is meaningless. Such a strategy would backfire because it leads to chaos and commotion. If Maulana doesn’t revise his reformatory mission and reconstruction approach, his dream of turning Pakistan into an ideal Islamic state would never come true.
Directing and monitoring an aimless movement while living a comfortable life in a distant secular and Unislamic land of Canada, looks hypocritical and contentious. Let him live in the slums of Pakistan and spearhead the movement and thus transform the destiny of the people of Pakistan. Example is better than fiery orations or hollow precepts. Occasionally he talks of Tehrir Square that uprooted a might dictator. But, Pakistan is not Egypt. Pakistan is now a democratic country.
My hunch is that Dr. Qadri in somehow being used by the forces that are inimical to the incumbent government for one reason or the other. Dr. Qadri seems to be playing in the hands of some political figures who want to have short cut to power corridors. Mercifully the democratically elected, PPP government completed its 5 years in power. Let the present government stay at the helm for the same constitutional period. It would be up to the people to reelect or reject it in the next elections. That is how the democratic tradition would be firmly rooted and flourish and that is what Pakistan is in need of.
Dr. Tahir-ul-Qadri is blessed with enormous gift of public speaking and articulation. He has a huge and growing bulk of followers and also unlimited financial resources and a safe haven of Canada. H can utilize all these precious assets by entering the political arena of Pakistan like other leaders, contest elections and attain power to transform Pakistan into an abode of his liking and lookout. That would be the best and decidedly rational way to establish his program and plans.
The writer is a senior journalist, editor of Diplomatic Times and a former diplomat.
You can read this and other articles of the writer at his blog www.uprightopinion.com