I am coming back with a mission: Dr Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri tells BBC Urdu

Ahead of his path-breaking and historic arrival in Pakistan on December 23, Shaykh-ul-Islam Dr Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri continues to be interviewed by national and international media. Saqlain Imam, renowned broadcaster of BBC Urdu Service, conducted a telephonic interview of Dr Tahir-ul-Qadri on December 14.

Speaking to Saqlain Imam, Shaykh-ul-Islam Dr Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri said that he believed in the democratic and political system. He rejected this notion that somehow he was trying to get the elections postponed or delayed. He said that his agenda was that electoral reforms should be undertaken before elections were held, adding in the same context that if elections were held without any kind of reform, it will expose the country to more crisis and be a repeat of what has been happening in this country for last sixty plus years.

Dr Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri said that Pakistan had been ruled both by the military leaders and civilians since its inception in 1947. He said that if the military dictators disrupted democracy and ran the country like autocrats, the conduct of so-called democrats had not been inspiring while in office. He said that civilian leaders also behaved like dictators. He said that there was no major difference between military and civilian leaders. ‘If military dictators suspend Constitution or hold it in abeyance upon assuming power, in the same way the civilian autocrats also violate the Constitution by acting against its essence and spirit and when questioned on their conduct, they invoke the mandate the masses have given them in the form of their votes,” he added.

Dr Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri said that the political government was not free today in running the affairs of the state and this was because those wielding power were incompetent. He said that the country’s sovereignty, security and welfare of the people did not figure in the priorities of the politicians who were busier in making hay as long as the sun shone. He said that political elite was engaged in collecting perks and privileges, abusing power and politicking to return to power by hook or crook. He said that civilian governments lacked both courage and will to dare touch the country’s foreign policy leave alone formulating it in the first place. He said that incompetence of politicians was manifest from the fact that despite the havoc wrought by terrorism, they failed to undertake serious and solid legislation to bring the perpetrators of terrorism to justice.

Dr Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri said that there was a correlation between changing the electoral system and eliminating terrorism. He said that if competent and truly representative leadership emerged from reformed electoral exercise, it would be bold and daring enough to take necessary steps, both legislative and administrative, to rein in terrorists. He further added that those who had been returned to power over and over had neither the desire nor willingness to change the system as they were direct beneficiary of the same. He said that terrorism was the country’s number one problem as mayhem continued to spread with people being killed, mosques and religious places being burnt but the elimination of terrorism was not part of any civilian government’s agenda.

To a question about Imran Khan whether he could bring about change, Dr Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri said that anyone who became part of electoral system and contested elections without seeking solid reforms in it would not be able to bring about any change even if he struggled for 50 years.

To a question about the political system advocated by him, Dr Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri said that he would not answer the question in detail. However, he did spell out some broad contours. He said that no political party was ready and willing to award party ticket to an educated, noble and competent person as required under Article 62 and 63 of the Constitution. He said that the fact of the matter was that whosoever succeeded in getting party’s ticket did so by depositing a fund of million of rupees in the name of party fund. He asked as to how a person not having heaps of money could even think of entering electoral exercise leave alone winning it in such conditions.

Dr Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri said that he wanted to design a political model in which the political parties would give up the practice of selling party tickets. He said that his political system would ban that practice. Likewise, the electoral expenditures which runs into millions of rupees will also be banned. He said that every community will send their representative to the assembly who would belong to them and be one of them. For example, the labourers would elect a labourer, farmers a farmer, journalists a journalist and lawyers a lawyer. He said that he incorporated one clause from the Chinese model wherein each segment of society elects their representative and sends him or her to Assembly.

To a question whether he ever got any perks or privilege from a government or ruler, Dr Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri denied categorically that both Minhaj-ul-Quran International and his person ever got even a single penny from any provincial or federal government or any foreign power.

To a question about Blasphemy Law, Dr Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri said that he established the substantive part of law in the court. He said that there were two facets of law, substantive and procedural. He presented arguments on the question of punishment for committal of blasphemy of the Prophets. He said that he did not agree to procedural application of law. He said that he always made it clear that he was in favour of capital punishment as this punishment was prescribed in Bible, Gospel, holy Book of Jews and the Holy Quran. He said how he could oppose a punishment prescribed and sanctioned by the holy books of all religions.

Dr Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri said that he favoured procedural reforms in the said law to make sure that none is blackmailed, victimized or unfairly targeted through abuse of the law. He said that a clear procedure needed to be laid down as to how to get an FIR registered, evidence collected, trial undertaken and punishment awarded. He said that all these areas required reforms so that chances for abuse of law could be eliminated.

To a question regarding safety of his life after he authored historic Fatwa against terrorism and suicide bombing, Dr Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri said that he was not worried on this count as the matters of life and death were in the hands of Allah Almighty. He said that he issued religious decree by regarding it as his national and religious duty in the light of the Holy Quran and Sunna. He said that he was returning to Pakistan with a great cause and a grand mission. He said that he was returning to fight for the country’s survival but added that it was a peaceful fight in which he sought to bring people out of hatred into abode of tolerance, from pit of corruption into honesty and from darkness into light.