Leader of Minhaj-ul-Quran International Tahirul Qadri addresses his
supporters from behind the window of an armoured vehicle on the second day of
protests in Islamabad January 15, 2013. PHOTO: REUTERS
ISLAMABAD: After his demand of dissolving the assemblies was not fulfilled, Minhajul
Quran International (MQI) chief Tahirul Qadri said that if he or his followers
believed in undemocratic means of bringing about change, then they would have “overthrown
the government and would have barged into assemblies.”
Addressing the gathering from behind the window of a bullet-proof vehicle, Qadri
said, “Had the participants of this long march barged into the parliament, the assemblies,
no force would be able to prevent it.”
“However, we don’t believe in undemocratic means. Neither I am emotionally-driven,
nor are the participants. This is not an emotional outpour,” said the MQI chief.
He said, “Had I directed them [participants] so, they would have conquered the
assemblies within an hour.”
Terming it a “revolutionary protest against the fake mandate of the government,”
Qadri said that the march was “totally peaceful, absolutely democratic, completely
constitutional and strictly lawful.”
He said that he had prepared a seven-point agenda of “electoral democracy and
electoral reforms,” which, he said, he will announce by the end of his speech. Qadri
said that the last point in the agenda was the dissolution of assemblies.
The MQI chief said that he and his supporters had taken to the streets to stop
those “who stir anarchy in the country.”
‘Peace at home and abroad’
Qadri said that Pakistan was considered as a terrorist nation and placed the
blame on the government for “bringing the country to this state.”
He said that the people of Pakistan wanted peace to prevail in Pakistan and that
they wanted to propagate the message of peace across the world.
“We don’t want to give refuge to terrorists here,” said Qadri. “We don’t want
people with their backs tattooed with ‘devilish symbols’.”
He said “if the clothes of a few ministers are taken off, who is to say, they
might also have such tattoos on their backs.”
The MQI chief said that the people wanted the same peace in the country which
existed during Prophet Muhammad’s (pbuh) period.
‘The only right people of Pakistan have is the right to die’
Addressing “the rest of the world”, Qadri said that the people of Pakistan “have
no food, their clothes are torn and their homes are broken. Millions of people of
Pakistan are destitute without jobs; they have no money, while there is no income
support programme in place.”
Hence, he said, that the “only right the people of Pakistan are left with is
the right to die, the right to commit suicide.”
“People in Pakistan are living a life of anguish, misery and total desperation,”
said MQI chief.” “Terrorism and target killing have become rampant. There is no
protection of lives and liberty … no real freedom for the 99% of the poor people
‘Judiciary passes orders, government doesn’t implement them’
Qadri said that although the judiciary passed orders, the government does not
execute them. “Rights of Pakistanis are infringed upon. Judgments are passed by
the judiciary, but the government does not accept it. They rather criticise and
challenge these orders politically.”
Qadri asked the participants to carry on their protest in Islamabad. He said,
“I want to ask you to stay until tomorrow. I’m going to stay.”
The crowded shouted back “yes”.
“I will speak to you again tomorrow. Hopefully after tomorrow there will be no
need to stay any longer,” he added.
Earlier, the police force took position around D-Chowk, while eight armed personnel
carriers were deployed at the site.
A meeting of the district administration was underway with security agencies
to deliberate on dispersing the crowd. At least 22,000 police personnel and a large
contingent of Rangers are already present on D-Chowk, where Qadri’s supporters are
staging a sit-in.
Qadri, who is still inside a bullet-proof container, has not yet addressed the
followers, who braved a chilly night to support him. He has decided to address them
from inside the container.
Earlier, security forces fired in the air and used tear gas to try and control
The MQI blamed Interior Minister Rehman Malik for directing the security forces
to resort to aerial firing and said that if an action is not taken against Malik,
then the angered crowd might do something.
“We will not accept Qadri’s pressure because his demands are unconstitutional,”
Malik told local television channels shortly after security forces fired in the
air and used tear gas to try and control protesters.
Live television coverage showed forces firing in the air – a serious escalation
in attempts to control crowds – while supporters of Qadri hurled stones at them.
Qadri’s spokesman told Reuters the crowds had prevented government forces from
arresting Qadri. He said six supporters were wounded.