Tahrir in Islamabad
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In Pakistan, newsmakers abound. The latest is Maulana Tahir-ul-Qadri, who descended on Pakistan's political arena from Canada. A religious preacher who heads the Islamic school Minhaj-ul-Quran International and propagates "soft" Islam, Qadri was an associate of the Sharif brothers before leaving for Canada. He has returned just ahead of Pakistan's general elections this year. He hasn't found favour with either the Sharifs of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) or the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP). It's the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), the PPP's ally, led by London-based Altaf Hussain, which has joined ranks with Qadri to call for inquilab (revolution). Qadri shocked everyone with the attendance at his recent rallies. He has now given the federal government a January 10 deadline to bring about electoral reforms, or put up with his long march on January 14, with the promise of an attendance of 40 lakh supporters outside the National Assembly.
The Express Tribune reported on January 1: "The rally titled 'Safar-e-Inqilab-e-Pakistan' was held at Jinnah Ground [Karachi] and was also addressed by MQM chief Altaf Hussain via telephone from London... Qadri thanked Altaf and the MQM for accepting his party's invitation to join the 'million-man march' to Islamabad in order to 'give rights back to the poor'. Qadri said that he had invited all religious and political parties... to join the march but only the MQM responded positively... [He] said that Islamabad was about to become Tahrir Square on January 14. But, he stressed, the revolution will be peaceful."
It is rumoured Qadri is a spy for foreign powers while others allege he is a front for Pakistan's all-powerful army. Qadri has denied all allegations and insisted he has no backers, nor any political ambition. "My mission is to uphold the constitution of Pakistan. My mission is to restore Jinnah's true democracy... our agenda is the elimination of feudalism and capitalism," the report added.
Rocking the boat
A petition has been filed in Lahore High Court to stop Qadri's January 14 rally. The two main national parties, the PML-N and the PPP, otherwise arch rivals, seem united in their opposition to Qadri.
A Pakistan Today report on January 3 explained the current political situation. "MQM chief Altaf Hussain... told interior minister Rehman Malik to stop wasting his energies and time by asking the party to reconsider its alliance with Qadri, and should head to Model Town, Lahore if he wanted to discuss the prevalent political situation. The MQM, however, assured the PPP that it would not part ways with the coalition government. Malik, the PPP's lead troubleshooter, had headed to London on Wednesday to talk Hussain out of his decision of supporting Qadri's planned long march on January 14. The visiting minister was told that news of MQM's separation from the government and derailing the current democratic system were mere rumours... The president... called PM Pervez Ashraf to Karachi to discuss the emerging alliance and talks of revolution, while the... PML-N also called in a meeting in Lahore to discuss the newborn alliance..."
Malala Yousafzai is recovering in Birmingham. Dawn reported on January 3 that her father, Ziauddin Yousafzai, has been appointed education attaché at Pakistan's consulate in Birmingham. Another report
stated Malala was conferred the 2012 Tipperary International Peace Award from Ireland for "her courage and determination to speak out in support of equal access to
education for children".
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