LAHORE: Tehrik-i-Minhajul Quran (TMQ) chief Tahirul Qadri said on Tuesday that his party had not yet decided to contest elections because it was presently focused on accomplishing its one-point agenda: formation of an honest and trustworthy caretaker government in consultation with the military, judiciary and other stakeholders.
Talking to Dawn, he said the caretaker government should hold free and fair elections in 90 days or so after introducing massive electoral reforms under the Constitution.
“Presently, we only want an independent and honest caretaker set-up after consultations between the military, judiciary and other stakeholders. It should not be a result of a ‘mukmuka’ (deal) between the two parties (PPP and PML-N) alone. So this is our one-point agenda at the moment and we want it to be accomplished by Jan 10,” Dr Qadri said.
Asked about justification of his campaign for a caretaker government and electoral reforms despite being a Canadian national, the TMQ chief said he was doing nothing in violation of rules or the Constitution.
“I am a dual national of Pakistan and Canada. I am a Pakistan national by birth and origin and Canadian national by choice. And I can hold both nationalities under the rules and the agreements our country has made with several countries,” he argued.
“The Constitution only forbids dual nationals like me from contesting elections and holding public office. As I have not yet decided to contest elections and hold any public office in future, it is not binding on me to lead or participate in the rallies like our recent one to push Islamabad initiate process and form a caretaker set-up that could hold elections after massive cleansing through electoral reforms under the Constitution,” he said.
He said he would give up his Canadian citizenship if he decided to take part in elections.
Asked whether or not the PPP or the PML-N had contacted him to postpone his long march call and rally of millions in Islamabad for Jan 14, he said no one from the two parties had contacted him to date.
“Only Chaudhry Shujaat and Pervaiz Elahi of PML-Q, Shah Mehmood Qureshi and Aleem Khan of PTI, Difaa-i-Pakistan Council chairman Maulana Samiul Haq and former president Pervez Musharraf have contacted me and congratulated for holding a successful rally at Minar-i-Pakistan. They have also sought a meeting with me on issues the country is facing,” he said.
In reply to a question whether he had any plan to have an electoral alliance with the MQM or PTI, Dr Qadri said his party was at present concentrating on its one-point agenda of a trustworthy and honest caretaker set-up for transparent elections.
“We may think about this in case we decide to participate in elections or not,” he said.
His attention was drawn to an example cited by him in his Sunday rally about a caretaker set-up in Italy, Tahirul Qadri said he had not called for such an arrangement in Pakistan.His reaction was sought on a remark by a judicial commission which disapproved of his conduct during a hearing in a case of alleged attempt on his life in 1990, he said the then government had set up a one-man administrative tribunal, and not a judicial commission, to investigate the case.
“I appeared a number of times and produced around 25 witnesses before the tribunal. At a time when the body was about to decide the case, the government abolished it and formed an LHC judicial commission. Later, I started appearing before this commission and asked whether or not it would start its work from the point where the tribunal had left it. It (the commission) started probing the case afresh. So I was disappointed and boycotted its proceedings. And later they issued such a verdict,” he said.
Asked about his strategy for the march to Islamabad on Jan 14, Dr Qadri said although he and his party were determined not to end this event till acceptance of his demands, the rally’s participants will decide whether to stay there or not.