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By Ansar Abbasi
Wednesday, January 02, 2013
From Print Edition
 
 

 

Spokesman says army stands for democracy

 

News Analysis

 

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Army has distanced itself from the newly-surfaced Qadri factor, which has caused serious fears among many about the very survival of the system and possible chaos in the country.

 

While the federal government, the Punjab rulers and military establishment have yet to sit together to chalk out a strategy to secure the system from being possibly hijacked by a Canadian national with highly controversial reputation, the ISPR Director General Maj General Asim Saleem Bajwa categorically denied that the military establishment was behind Allama Dr Tahirul Qadri.

 

Qadri, however, insists that he is not following anyone’s agenda but instead wants to salvage the nation from the corrupt and corrupt system through electoral reforms.

 

When asked if the military establishment has brought in Qadri to derail the system at this crucial juncture when the nation awaits free and fair elections, Gen Bajwa said, “This is all speculation and totally incorrect.”

 

Bajwa reminded that the Army’s track record during the last five years under General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani itself speaks of the institution’s support for democracy. He also underlined the recent assurance of the army chief to the chief election commissioner in the holding of fair, free and independent elections in the country.

 

Regarding Qadri’s January 14 long march call for Islamabad, General Bajwa said that it is for the federal and the provincial governments to decide how to tackle the issue. He said none of the governments had as yet approached the military for any assistance in this context.

 

Till this time, both the federal and Punjab governments, despite having been seriously warned by the sudden arrival of Allama Qadri in an impressive fashion, have no strategy in hand with respect to the Qadri’s long march call.

 

However, Interior Minister Abdur Rehman Malik is Abdur Rehman Malik is expected to fly to London to meet MQM Chief Altaf Hussain, who has already announced to join Qadri’s long march.

 

On Monday Malik at the federal level and Rana Sanaullah in Lahore had indicated that Qadri’s long march would not be blocked. Qadri has announced that his long march would start from Lahore and would head to Islamabad where the march participants would stage a sit-in till their choice caretaker setup is installed and demands are met.

 

Although Qadri has been changing his stance with every passing day, MQM that is an ally of the ruling PPP-led coalition at the federal and Sindh levels has surprised all and sundry by jumping into the Qadri bandwagon. This move of the MQM is generally seen as opportunism but to further the confusion the PML-Q top leadership has also met Qadri in Lahore and offered their complete support to latter’s agenda.

 

The extraordinary arrival of Qadri and the joining of hands by the MQM and the PML-Q, led to widespread speculation that the Pakistani establishment is behind this unexpected phenomenon.

 

A senior mediaperson, who is known for his connections with the US administration, has suggested in a TV show that after getting disappointed with dictators and democrats, the US and the west are now betting on Qadri, who is an enlightened moderate scholar.

 

But Qadri even on Tuesday again categorically rejected that he follows the agenda of any internal or international player, and insisted that his struggle is genuine and for the good of the people of Pakistan.

 

Meanwhile a close aide of Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf told The News on Tuesday that the government would chalk out its strategy in a couple of days in regard to long march. The source also said that the interior minister would soon visit London to talk to the MQM leader Altaf Hussain.

 

The sudden popping up of Qadri in the political arena has left most completely puzzled as hardly anyone surely knows what the controversial Allama is up to, who is behind him, what he wants to achieve, where would he end?