KARACHI, Jan 1: Muttahida Qaumi Movement chief Altaf Hussain and Tehrik-i-Minhajul Quran’s patron-in-chief Allama Dr Tahirul Qadri vowed at largely attended public meeting here on Tuesday to turn Islamabad into Pakistan’s Tahrir Square on Jan 14 when ‘millions’ of peaceful demonstrators would pour into the capital to instal what was described as a neutral and independent caretaker set-up for introducing long overdue electoral reforms.
The MQM played host to Allama Qadri who was given a rousing welcome on his arrival at the party’s Nine Zero headquarters from Lahore to address the meeting in the Jinnah Ground.
Mr Hussain addressed the gathering from London on the phone.
Both the leaders reiterated their stance that they did not want any delay in the general election or derailment of democracy and Allama Qadri declared that electoral reforms should be introduced before elections.
Interestingly, both of them did not conceal their love for the armed forces. Allama Qadri talked about the principle of merit followed in the army and Mr Hussain sought the army’s support for bringing about a people’s revolution.
Mr Hussain said that ‘people’s parliament’ in Islamabad would decide on Jan 14 what kind of system the people of Pakistan wanted. He made it clear that the long march was not for a change of government because it was aimed at revolutionising the ‘corrupt’ system.
He urged all political and religious parties and institutions to take part in what he termed a ‘journey of revolution’.
Addressing the armed forces, the MQM chief said they had imposed martial law on several occasions on their own but this time they should support the people’s revolution for the sake of the country, instead of obstructing its path.
He said his party was supporting Allama Qadri’s march for abolishing the feudal system and reforming electoral politics.
Mr Hussain asked the chief election commissioner if he was empowered and willing to disqualify the corrupt, dishonest and the willful defaulter under the provisions of the Constitution. “If you are (empowered) then we are with you, otherwise the people’s parliament will decide on Jan 14.”
He lashed out at the Punjab government for withdrawing security of Allama Qadri and called for its restoration.
He said that anyone seeking to hold negotiations about the long march should talk to Allama Qadri who would take a final decision. However, Allama Qadri quickly intervened and said that any decision regarding negotiations would be taken jointly by him, Mr Hussain and leaders of other parties who would join the march.
Allama Qadri, who spoke from behind a bulletproof glass cubicle, said in his speech that Islamabad was going to become Pakistan’s biggest Tehrir Square on Jan 14.
He said that after the Dec 23 rally in Lahore, the people of Karachi and Sindh also rejected the existing system by participating in what he called a referendum.
“We want supremacy of the Constitution, Islamic caliphate, true democracy and rule of law in the country. We are against the politics of loot and plunder,” he said, adding that the people of Pakistan wanted a true impartial, neutral, independent and powerful caretaker government which should enforce electoral reforms.
He said that he neither wanted to become the caretaker prime minister nor he was a candidate for the post.
In a veiled reference to the army, he said he wanted a caretaker government which should be considered as suitable and right by all stakeholders, including those whose primary responsibility was to defend sovereignty of the country, and the people of Pakistan. “Otherwise, the decision will be made on Jan 14 in Islamabad’s Tehrir Square.”
Allama Qadri said that elections should be contested only by those who met the criteria envisaged in Articles 62 and 63 of the Constitution. “Sixty per cent people are disappointed with the existing system to an extent that they don’t cast votes. Reforms come first, then elections…then people would also cast votes.”
He said that the armed forces were part of this country and society, but despite this there was a system of merit in this institution.
A large number of people, including women and children, were present in the packed-to-capacity Jinnah Ground. Scores of people listened to the speeches standing on adjacent roads and streets.