MQM rally: Qadri speaks of ‘Tahrir Square style’ change

By Rabia AliPublished: January 2, 2013

"The movement is not aimed against the government but against the current system," says MQM Cheif.

KARACHI: The Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) and Minhajul Quran International (MQI) on Tuesday kicked off what they dubbed ‘save the country movement’ and vowed that the January 14 “million-man march” would be decisive for the country’s future.

With the launch of the movement, the MQM – a key ally – seems to be distancing itself from the government and supporting a movement led by religious scholar Tahirul Qadri, which calls for a change in the governing system.

Welcoming MQI chief Qadri – who made this debut visit to the MQM headquarters Nine-Zero – at a rally organised by the MQM at the Jinnah Ground, party chief Altaf Hussain said in a telephonic address, “No power in the world can now stop a revolution which would help rid the country of its corrupt leaders.”

However, the MQM chief made it clear that the movement was not aimed against the government but against the current system.

“The Safar-e-Inquilab will end when it has reached its destination. I appeal to all political and religious parties to step forward and save the country, snatch it from the corrupt and give rights to the poor,” Hussain said requesting the army to support it.

Calling Qadri his elder brother, Hussain said, “The public march is not aimed to derail the process of democracy or to delay elections. We want to save Pakistan, ensure electoral reforms and strengthen it.”

He stated that if anyone from the government wanted to negotiate on the long march, they could but the final decision would be taken by Qadri himself. Draped in black robes, Qadri was given a grand reception, showered with rose petals, and welcomed to the stage amidst an applauding audience rising to its feet.

Addressing the people from a separate bullet-proof glass enclosure made on the stage, Qadri said, “We are at a crucial juncture in history. Islamabad will become the largest Tahrir Square in the world. However, the protest will be peaceful. Not a single [drop of] blood would be shed. Not a single tree branch would be broken. Hundreds of thousands will prove that they are united and not violent.”

Discussing the highlights of his party’s manifesto, Qadri said that they want an Islamic state which strictly follows the Constitution. “There should be genuine democracy and rule of law. The Constitution states that sovereignty should be exercised as a sacred trust and it should be followed [steadfastly].”

The MQI chief said that he had invited all the parties to start a movement, but it was only Hussain who supported his cause.

“Altaf Hussain’s ideology of supporting the lower class is the same as ours,” Qadri stated. He added that although he had never met Hussain or visited the MQM headquarters before, the MQM’s support for the march was “overwhelming”.

“My aim is not to become a caretaker prime minster. However, I am raising voice for a caretaker government which is unbiased, reformed and totally honest.”

He asserted that this new movement was against corruption and feudalism, and seeks to bring the middle and lower class people in Parliament. “The movement is also against religious extremism”.

Regarding the changes his movement seeks to bring about, Qadri stated, “Taxpayers should sit in assemblies, and those with fake degrees and non-payers should land in prisons.” He said if recruitments in the army could take place on merit, why other civil departments couldn’t function in the same way.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 2nd, 2013.

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