TUQ Long March: Some Thoughts and Afterthoughts
Lahore rally of 23rd December 2012 was the curtain raiser and Islamabad D-Square on 17th Jan 2013, curtains were drawn. In between these dates, lots of hypes were created, with the passage of time anxiety started to build all eyes and ears got focused on 14th Jan Long March.
Around 23rd Dec when I was traveling in different towns and cities the bannering that I saw was massive; it appeared that the rally would be held in that town or city. The rally at Lahore turned out to be the biggest in history with a perfect management and marketing skills. TUQ (Tahir Ul Qadri) displayed exceptional management skills that are no concern for any other political party in Pakistan. Here he gave the call for 4 million march on Islamabad for 14th of Jan. it was obvious that this number could never be achieved but was only a slogan to build the crowd.
His timing to launch a movement was perfect but it also invited external threats. New elections are about to be called, the present political actors in the assemblies have all failed to deliver; there is complete chaos in the country, people are being killed like flies, target killings have become a routine. The killers and the killed both do not know why it is happening.
National institutions like NAB, PIA, Railways, and Steel Mill etc. all have been paralyzed. Energy crises are at its worst in history but the people in power have shown no concern of any sort. Orders of SC of Pakistan are being flouted, SC ordered arrest of Raja Parvez Ashraf on 15th Jan for his corruption in Rental Power deals. Neither he has resigned nor has been arrested. All has become a mockery. Now the death of Kamran Faisal, the NAB investigating officer on Rental Power has made it all more suspicious. Last night it was the wedding of Parvez Ashraf’s son, the Prime Minister was missing from his son’s wedding, why?
Today if war breaks out, clouds of which are looming large then there would be no means to transport the troops and war material. Yet Ghulam Ahmed Bilour does not feel ashamed for what he has done to the railways; the cabinet does not question him, Raja Parvez Ashraf, the corrupt Prime Minister has no concern, Asif Ali Zardari is the manipulator. The complete government machinery is in rot, all geared up for corruption and killings.
Now even the IMF and World Bank have refused to loan any more money. Government will have no money even to pay salaries. The loans in the last five years have been doubled, where has all that money gone, who is to question and whom. Internal and external threats are being intensified, in doing so the entire political structure is equally responsible.
Nawaz Sharif is purely a commercial man, he knows how to make and multiply wealth, and his politics is focused on that. For the last five years, he has acted a friendly opposition to ensure his government in the Punjab. The strength that he had could have been a formidable force to ensure that the ruling coalition remains on course. He showed no such concerns and was quite content waiting his turn to move into Islamabad after coming elections. Ever since he entered the arena, politics have become more commercial, now it’s an industry.
MQM has not accepted the state of Pakistan, Altaf Hussain misses no chance in attacking and demonizing Mr. Jinnah. He is on record to have addressed a gathering in Nehru University in Delhi where he said that creation of Pakistan is a regret.
ANP of Ghaffar Khan, known as Sarhadi Gandhi never wanted Pakistan; he willed that his grave be in Jalalabad where now he lies buried. When he refused his burial in Pakistan then that leaves no doubts about his love and loyalty for Pakistan.
Zulfiqar Bhutto is again a very controversial personality, majority of people in Pakistan hold him in deep contempt of break of Pakistan. His followers who are illiterate persons in majority, who vote but do not think, are the backbone of PPP. This is what BB once stated that let media print or say whatever they want to her party voters do not read newspapers. The feudal of Sindh and Southern Punjab have banked and exploited this vote bank.
Having said that what options do the masses have, where middle class is completely crushed and helpless? They would look for any messiah, their minds have been made senseless, they cannot think and differentiate good from bad, who is evil and who is sincere. People are ready to jump or cling to any straw that may provide hope.
The masses or the low middle class and working class along with university students and women in large numbers participated in long march that later converted to ‘Dharna’ (Sit in). This dharna lasted for five days, drop scene coming on 17th Jan at about 10 PM when the declaration was read out to the people over live TV coverage.
Before leaving on long march, TUQ made some declarations to motivate the participants and send some strong messages all around.
- President will have to go.
- Prime Minister will have to go.
- Assemblies will be dissolved.
- Electoral reforms will be introduced.
- Corrupt and defaulters would all be arrested.
The government facilitated the marchers into Islamabad; there was no effort of significance to block the marchers enroute. Therefore people are forming different opinions. Some say it was a staged drama but then the questions were who is behind TUQ and his march and some took it that a messiah has arrived to alleviate the people from their sufferings and miseries. But the fact is that turnout was massive; participants were full of spirit and enthusiasm. They were all as fresh on the last day as they were on the first day.All TV channels ran marathon transmissions.
How come Dr. Qadri was giving prophetic deadlines? These prophecies are now beginning to ring some bells in the ears. As hindsight it seems maybe it was all planed that way. Its orchestration and coordination with perfect choreography like any Hollywood thriller that keeps a captivating hold over the audience was impressive. It was a tremendous performance by TUQ for which he deserves full credit. MQM’s all-out support and that of PML-Q is also quite meaningful. What I have maintained throughout that I agree with the message but have no love for TUQ. I had a very strong fear that he would sell out this long march for his personal gains that he did. We will have to wait and see what happens on 27th Jan at Lahore in the second round of parleys. However to ensure what I am going to say does not get biased I asked a few people about their take on this ‘Long March’ that I have quoted below would give some food for thought to the readers.
I asked Kashmala Tariq, MNA about her take on the long march, this is what she said, “TUQ got recognition, and a nobody became a somebody in politics.”
When I called Sheikh Rasheed, a former federal minister, a vocal supporter of TUQ and asked him about the implementation of the declaration, his plain reply was that nothing would be implemented. The only positive thing according to him has been that the public has gone back and dispersed without any mishap.
In all this dark story, there are some very positive messages that one can deduce. Masses irrespective of age, gender, sectarian or ethnic background all came out to express their solidarity with the cause for which a call was given. The people braved the rough and harsh weather of Islamabad for five days. In doing so, there were countless mothers who had brought their infants with them. They were so determined that they were willing to sacrifice their children. Many had come after selling their belongings and assets so as to participate in this Long March.
Having contacted Ijaz-ul-Haq, another former federal minister, he said that if nothing else, the issues have been highlighted that people neither would nor keep demanding and the politicians would not be able to deny this any longer. An awareness has been created, that will not die now.
Another friend of mine, a scholar who is based in Canada, had the following to say; “Tahir ul Qadri does not have clean background. Here in Canada, he lived and acted to support the policies and practices of the Kafirs and Mushriks. I view him as a self- centered and moral-intellectually corrupt person. The sit-in was a diversion from the real vital issues facing the nation in its quest for planned change and reformation of the institutionalized corruption. Surely, we need new political system and a new beginning for Pakistan.” He further stated that “He was a fugitive in hiding in Canada under the protection of intelligence agencies. In UK, he was patronized by Brit intelligence- a readily available puppet with mouth and mind to deliver bogus fatwas, enhance personal image as if he was a scholar and invincible political actor. His return to Pakistan is surely sponsored by the foreign masters to create more social-political disruptions and to ensure that Pakistani should not survive out of the internal-external chaotic challenges. I am surprised how people were hired and organized to march on to Islamabad.”
The Quetta protest by the Hazaras, peace loving die hard Pakistanis for almost 5 days for massive killings of their people by terrorists followed by TUQ Long March and the conditions in Karachi prompted Indian Army Chief Gen Bikram Singh to take a hostile and aggressive posture. Violations across Line of Control picked up so did the Indian Media and politicians. None of our political leadership made any statement on that account which is deplorable. Thanks to Pakistan Army and other defence forces that got readied to face the threat. TUQ’s timings could be a coincidence or a planned move needs to be studied and understood. If this march had got bloody with a few killings, India would not have waited to attack. Rahman Malik did make attempt to create such a scene and panic, why he must be questioned. Out of his declared agenda, nothing has been achieved, all he got was a promissory note ‘Islamabad Long March Declaration’ of which he may print millions of copies and distribute to the people. All said and done public has not achieved any immediate benefit from all this ordeal and hardship that they went through. If TUQ had ensured the arrest of Raja Parvez Ashraf Imran Khan’s absence from the rally when he declared that agenda is common is not understood. Most people feel that he should have joined the protest. By his joining, he would have ensured the continuity and TUQ could not have hijacked the nation. Now the only visible result is that TUQ has become a political player, for how long that the time would tell. The positive side of this ‘Long March’ has been:
- It has ensured that now the elections would be held on or before 6th of March 2013 that was being evaded by Zardari to ensure his next term.
- That people have got galvanized as a nation.
- It was a display of unity faith and discipline seldom witnessed before in the world.
- It sent a strong message to our enemies that nation cannot be messed around with.
- The issues raised would never die; new assemblies will have to take cognizance of it.
- Future elections would be more focused on issues rather than ‘baradri clans.’
Of the Islamabad declaration, even if 50% is achieved, if not more at least 50% of the present members would be eliminated from assemblies. In the long run, it would also help to break the family grips over our political structure.
Opinion Poll Conducted by Opinion Maker, result is as under.
Tahir ul Qadri’s ‘Long March’ is sponsored.