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

Jihadist Assassin says Goal of Tunisia Murders Was Chaos

Abu Muqatil at-Tunusi’s remarks in a propaganda interview also cast light on attack on Bardo Museum More

Russia Denies License to Tatar-Language TV Station in Crimea

OSCE official says denial shows 'politically selective censorship of free and independent voices in Crimea is continuing' More

Kenyan Startups Tackle Expensive Remittances Through Bitcoin

Some think services could give Western Union a run for its money, though others say it’s still got a long way to go 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.
For Obama, It's More Business Than Friendships With World Leadersi
X
Aru Pande
April 01, 2015 9:09 PM
The rift between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has put a spotlight on the importance of the American leader’s personal relationships with other world leaders and what role such friendships play in foreign policy. VOA's Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video For Obama, It's More Business Than Friendships With World Leaders

The rift between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has put a spotlight on the importance of the American leader’s personal relationships with other world leaders and what role such friendships play in foreign policy. VOA's Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video Buhari: Nigeria Has ‘Embraced Democracy’

Nigeria woke up to a new president-elect Wednesday, Muhammadu Buhari. But people say democracy is the real winner as the country embarks on its first peaceful handover of power since the end of military rule in 1999. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Abuja.
Video

Video Tiny Camera Sees Inside Blood Vessels

Ahead of any surgical procedure, doctors try to learn as much as possible about the state of the organs they plan to operate on. A new camera developed in the Netherlands can now make that easier - giving surgeons an incredibly detailed look inside blood vessels, all the way to the patient’s heart. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Latin American Groups Seek Fans at Texas Music Festival

Latin American music groups played all over Austin, Texas, during the recent South by Southwest festival, and some made fans out of locals as well as people from around the world who had come to hear music. Such exposure can boost such groups' image back home. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Stockton Community, Police, Work to Improve Relations

Relations are tense between minority communities and police departments around the United States following police shootings that have generated widely-publicized protests. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Stockton, California, where police and community groups are working toward solutions, with backing from Washington.
Video

Video Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedom

Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Report: State of Black America a 'Tale of Two Nations'

The National Urban League has described this year's "State of Black America" report as a "tale of two nations." The group's annual report, released earlier this month (March), found that under an equality index African Americans had only 72% parity compared to whites in areas such as education, economics, health, social justice and civic engagement. It’s a gap that educators and students at Brooklyn’s Medgar Evers College are looking to close. VOA's Daniela Schrier reports from the school.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials Underway in West Africa

Ebola has claimed the lives of more than 10,000 people in West Africa. Since last summer, researchers have rushed to get anti-Ebola vaccines into clinical trials. While it's too early to say that any of the potential vaccines work, some scientists say they are seeing strong results from some of the studies. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More