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Says president, PM, ministers have become ex-officials after the convergence of long marchers on the capital; gives admin five minutes to shift stage to D-Chowk; claims gathering of 4m people while 1m to come on foot; long march ends, revolution begins; participants bring blankets, food with them to stage sit-in; people with no connection to TMQ chief also join protest
 
 
Mumtaz Alvi
Tuesday, January 15, 2013
From Print Edition
 
 

 

ISLAMABAD: Tehrik-e-Minhajul Quran chief Dr Tahirul Qadri at 2:15 am on Tuesday gave an ultimatum for the dissolution of the federal and provincial governments and national and provincial assemblies by 11 am, otherwise the people will take their own decisions.

 

He said after the gathering of a huge people number of people after his long march, morally the president, the PM and all the ministers have become ex-officials.During his brief speech at the end of the long march, Dr Qadri congratulated the participants of the march for being part of such a huge event.

 

He said that the long march has now ended, and the revolution has begun. Oppression, cruelty, corruption, injustice, rigging will come to an end. The rights of the people which have been “usurped by the privileged class and so called elite, dacoits and thieves, will be taken back and returned to the masses”.

 

He said that it was not only the largest march in Pakistan but the biggest in the history of the world. He said that Interior Minister Rehman Malik had visited him in Lahore and had promised that the stage of the sit-in will be erected at D-Chowk of the federal capital, but the promise was not fulfilled. He gave a 5-minute ultimatum to the capital authorities to shift the stage in front of the Parliament House.

 

He asked civil servants not to be afraid of their bosses as they will cease to be their masters in a day or two. He said that he had come to relieve the government servants from the clutches of their masters. He said that he will address the people at 11 am at D-Chowk, adding that it will be his inaugural speech for a revolution.

 

The TMQ chief invited President Asif Ali Zardari, Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, cabinet ministers, PML-N President Mian Nawaz Sharif, Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, ANP chief Asfandyar Wali Khan, Balochistan and Sindh leaders to witness the gathering of what he termed four million people.

 

He said that the mandate given by the people of Pakistan has come to an end as they have gathered here to oust the rulers. He said that there is no moral ground for the rulers to stay in power, as their “fake mandate” has been revealed.

 

Dr Qadri gave the ultimatum and asked the prime minister to advise the president to dissolve the National Assembly and the chief ministers to advise their respective governors to dissolve the provincial assemblies by 11 am today (Tuesday).

 

He said that there was a revolution in France but the Pakistani nation has also awakened, and the Pakistani people have more enthusiasm than that of any other nation of the world.

 

He said that now the people will stage their own assembly and take their own decisions. The TMQ chief said that he had come with a ‘Hussaini mission’ to oust ‘the Yazidi forces’ remaining within the constitutional limits.

 

On the occasion, Dr Qadri took an oath from the participants for not leaving the sit-in till his further orders, whether it takes one day or two. He also congratulated the media for covering long march.

 

The TMQ head asked his supporters to take rest and offer their Fajr prayers and not worry about the chill, hunger and thirst. He greeted 180 million Pakistanis on what he called the dawn of an ‘awami, jamhoori inqilab’. He asked the men to become his security force, rangers.

 

He claimed four to five million people had gathered for change and said another one million were approaching the venue on foot from Jhelum, Gujar Khan and other areas. He advised his supporters to wait for them before he would deliver his address.

 

He asked the females to follow the role Syeda Zainab had played. The size of the highly disciplined gathering was estimated to be about 60,000-65,000 persons with the active participation of women, some of whom had come with their babies. However, the turn-out was far less than Dr Qadri had promised in his Minar-e-Pakistan rally on December 23 in which he had claimed that four million people would assemble in Islamabad on January 14 to push for a change of system in Pakistan.

 

The male and female youth frequently made their presence felt by waving national flags and chanting slogans like, ‘we want change’. His supporters had started pouring in at the venue by Monday afternoon. The weather became chillier after fog had enveloped the federal capital.

 

The stage was erected about a kilometre away from the Parliament House beside the Saudi-Pak building while the marchers were seated at a distance of 250 ft from the stage. For parking of the vehicles, space was allocated at F-9 Park, while the participants had to walk some three kilometres to reach the venue. Dr Qadri, led the march, he travelled from Lahore to the federal capital in a bullet-proof container, equipped with modern facilities. However, from the container, he was brought to the stage in a bullet-proof black jeep.

 

A majority of those interviewed prior to the arrival of Dr Qadri, claimed the points raised by their leader in his earlier speech in Lahore was the voice of every patriotic Pakistani. They anticipated the event would be a replica of the unprecedented Quetta sit-in by mourners with 86 bodies.

 

They claimed Dr Qadri would be a system-changer rather than a game-changer, dumping the rotten and corrupt political culture, which had only added to the miseries of the common man.

 

AFP adds: TMQ chief Dr Tahirul Qadri vowed to camp out on the streets of the federal capital with thousands of his followers till the acceptance of his demands.

 

“We will stay in Islamabad until this government is finished, all the assemblies are dissolved, all corrupt people are totally ousted, a just Constitution is imposed, rule of law is enforced, and true and real democracy is enforced,” he told AFP in Sohawa on Monday.

 

Tens of thousands of protesters later reached Islamabad on Monday, led by a Dr Qadri.Dr Qadri said that the polls cannot be held until key reforms are enacted.Witnesses said there were tens of thousands, carrying the green and white national flags of Pakistan and TMQ, Qadri’s religious and educational organisation, which has a network in Pakistan and all over the world.

 

Men, women and children piled onto rooftops of buses, flashing victory signs in a five-kilometre convoy of vehicles, an AFP reporter said.Anthems blasted out of loudspeakers as protesters danced to drumbeats and local residents showered the passing convoy with rose petals.

 

Long-standing followers of Qadri are taking part alongside those who say they have no previous connection to the 61-year-old cleric who has campaigned against terrorism.They say Qadri has given a voice to the masses who have suffered at the hands of the feudal and industrial elite in a country suffering from a weak economy, an energy crisis, insurgencies and sectarian government.

 

“We want change in this government. There is no security for people. There is no electricity, there is no gas. All the thieves are in the government and we want to get rid of them,” said Zubair ul-Hasan Shah, 42.

 

He said he had food to last for a month and blankets, so he was undeterred about camping out in the street in the night-time cold of an Islamabad winter.Hafez Aamir Chishti, a cleric from Lahore travelling by motorbike, told AFP that he would stay in Islamabad as long as it takes to exact change.

 

“I’ll stay there until real change comes or until Tahirul Qadri asks me to go back. If I have to stay 10 years, I’ll stay there,” he said.Mobile phone networks had been shut down along the route of the convoy since it left Lahore on Sunday, as a precaution to avert any untoward stiation.

 

Reuters adds: Thousands converged on the capital Monday to join the march.Gulshan Irshad, a 25-year-old public school teacher in Gujranwala says she hasn’t been paid in two years.

 

“Officials want a bribe for releasing my salary but I won’t give in to corruption,” she said. “He (Qadri) is the first person who wants to change the whole corrupt system.”

 

Activists were busy setting up microphones and soup kitchens for the demonstrators.“I brought blankets and food with me, believing we will stay and protest for two or three days,” said Qamar Ghazi, 30, from Mianwali.