News / Asia

Tahir-ul Qadri Returns to Pakistan to Oppose Government

Pakistani cleric Tahir-ul-Qadri waves to his supporters after reaching Lahore, Pakistan, Monday, June 23, 2014.
Pakistani cleric Tahir-ul-Qadri waves to his supporters after reaching Lahore, Pakistan, Monday, June 23, 2014.
Ayaz Gul
This week a prominent cleric-turned-politician returned to Pakistan, vowing to organize anti-government protests.

Canada-based Tahir-ul Qadri has pledged a “peaceful revolution against a corrupt democracy.” But the sudden homecoming has fueled speculation that Pakistan’s powerful military may be using him as a proxy in efforts to sideline the political government.
 
Widely known as a pro-army cleric, Qadri’s Pakistan Awami Tehreek is one of the country’s most organized political parties.

Its base of support is rooted in Qadri’s large following from the vast network of mosques and religious centers he set up across Pakistan.
 
Tahir-ul Qadri
 
  • Born on February 19, 1951, in Jang, Pakistan
  • Started formal religious education at the age of 12 in Medina, Saudi Arabia
  • Founded Pakistan Awami Tehreek political party
  • Moved to Canada in 2004
  • Briefly returned to Pakistan to lead protests in 2013

Last year, he led mass rallies against Pakistan’s previous government. Now he has returned to lead what his spokesman has called an “Arab spring” style revolt and bring a new government to power that can improve accountability and push through reforms.
 
Seen as backed by army

Qadri’s ability to quickly organize mass rallies and openly denounce the civilian government has long been seen as evidence that he is backed by the army as a way of sidelining civilian leaders.
 
“Do you think that Tahir-ul Qadri would be able to make the kinds of statements that he is making and these are the kinds of activities that he is doing in Canada where he is a dual national? Do you think they will put up with this?” asked Daniyal Aziz, a lawmaker in the ruling party, rhetorically.
 
On Monday, Qadri was scheduled to arrive in Islamabad on an Emirates flight from Dubai, but authorities diverted the plane with nearly 300 passengers to Lahore, citing security concerns.
 
The move outraged thousands of his supporters waiting outside the airport in the capital, leading to violent clashes with police. It also triggered protests elsewhere in the country.
 
After several hours on the tarmac, Qadri eventually agreed to deplane but vowed to lead nationwide anti-government rallies to avenge the deaths of around a dozen supporters killed a week ago when Lahore police opened fire on a crowd outside Qadri’s residence.
 
That crackdown promoted severe criticism of the Nawaz Sharif government. Monday's plane incident has intensified it.
 
Raza Rumi, a television anchor and editor, said the overreaction by the government stems from the troubled democratic history of Pakistan, where the military has seized power through repeated coups.
 
“Pakistan’s history has been that when there is a confrontation like this, the civil-military relationship is going down then the military sort of reacts or comes back with a kind of political engineering that attacks the incumbent government, weakens it and creates an environment in public opinion where the population the electorate is ready for a political change,” Rumi said.
 
Widely dubbed as "self-styled revolutionary," last year Qadri briefly returned to Pakistan to lead a similar protest against the previous government.

Sit-in demonstration

Thousands of his supporters staged a three-day sit-in demonstration in the heart of Islamabad that dispersed peacefully. However, this time Qadri has vowed not to leave Pakistan until he accomplishes his mission.
 
"God willing," he said, "it will be a movement of revolution and this peaceful war will be fought until miseries of the poor are ended, oppressions against the innocent are avenged and corruption is eliminated."
 
There is growing public concern over the country’s ongoing battle against Taliban militants. But ruling party lawmaker Aziz links Qadri’s sudden return to Pakistan to the ongoing treason trial of former military President Pervez Musharraf.
 
“For the first time in Pakistan that two things are happening at the same time that democracy has shifted through a peaceful election from one party to another and now after many years of these kinds of episodes are taking place, there is also a treason trial underway," Aziz said. "The [army] establishment has not minced its words on its feelings regarding the trial that’s ongoing."
 
Opposition lawmaker Asad Umar disagreed, saying ruling party members are raising concerns over military interference in politics to distract the public from the failings of their own long-promised political and economic reforms.
 
“If it (army interference) is genuinely being done, it is a major, major issue," Umar said.

"Literally, there is nothing can be bigger than that - come to the parliament, go to the courts, use the constitution means available to you. You cannot run a slanderous media campaign against the important state institutions. That’s just not the right way of running the country democratically,” Umar said.
 
Discontent with the Sharif government has grown in recent months because of nationwide power shortages that have crippled economic activities in Pakistan.
 
Moreover, critics said that a lack of clarity on how to tackle a deadly Islamist insurgency at home and reported differences with the military in terms of dealing with neighboring Afghanistan and India are primary sources of civil-military tensions.
 
Observers are unsure whether Qadri’s homecoming is meant to fuel these tensions and whether other opposition political parties would want to join a man accused of promoting “undemocratic” forces to take charge of the national affairs.

You May Like

Turkey: No Ransom Paid for Release of Hostages Held by IS Militants

President Erdogan hails release of hostages as diplomatic success but declines to be drawn on whether their release freed Ankara's hand to take more active stance against insurgents More

Audio Sierra Leone Ends Ebola Lockdown

Health ministry says it has reached 75 percent of its target of visiting 1.5 million homes to locate infected, educate population about virus More

US Pivot to Asia Demands Delicate Balancing Act

As tumult in Middle East distracts Obama administration, efforts to shift American focus eastward appear threatened More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: azhar from: sf, ca
June 24, 2014 11:57 AM
I think we need such people -there is no *justice* been given to anyone. Revolution indeed needed! This is not your regular mullah, he is well educated and his demands are what each Pakistani wants for years!! With such a large following, I think his goals can be accomplished. NOTE: his demonstration in ISB had families & very peaceful. What you in past few days is mostly caused by N-league themselves, like what "gullu butt" incident.


by: Nizamuddin Ahmad Aali from: Houston, Texas
June 24, 2014 10:11 AM
We in Pakistan have already enough idiots and we do not need any more. Qadri is a fraud, owns and operate a family owned NGO. He tried to get a piggy back ride on army of Pakistan. A mid term election is the solution. Punjabi dominated poorly educated politicians should go back to their old business.


by: Shuaib
June 24, 2014 8:20 AM
There is no place for mullahs in Pakistan, we've had enough! Deport him back to Canada, all these mullahs do is cause chaos and incite violence in some way shape or form. If not against civilians - then it's against the government authorities which is illegal. Get out of Pakistan mullah sahab you are *not* wanted.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Towni
X
Deborah Block
September 21, 2014 2:12 PM
A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Town

A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Difficult Tactical Battle Ahead Against IS Militants in Syria

The U.S. president has ordered the military to intensify its fight against the Islamic State, including in Syria. But how does the military conduct air strikes in a country that is not a U.S. ally? VOA correspondent Carla Babb reports from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Alibaba Shares Soar in First Day of Trading

China's biggest online retailer hit the market Friday -- with its share price soaring on the New York Stock Exchange. The shares were priced at $68, but trading stalled at the opening, as sellers held onto their shares, waiting for buyers to bid up the price. More on the world's biggest initial public offering from VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid