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Tahrir Square is still far away


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Tahrir Square has been re-injected into Pakistan’s political vocabulary, after Canadian-Pakistani religious scholar, Tahirul Qadri, returned to Pakistan and on December 23, 2012 declared that he will hold the biggest “Tahrir Square gathering in the world in Islamabad, on January 14, 2013. - Photo by Online
Tahrir Square has been re-injected into Pakistan’s political vocabulary, after Canadian-Pakistani religious scholar, Tahirul Qadri, returned to Pakistan and on December 23, 2012 declared that he will hold the biggest “Tahrir Square gathering in the world in Islamabad, on January 14, 2013. - Photo by Online

ISLAMABAD: Abdul Samad, 42, who is from the Middle East but is visiting Pakistan, smiles whenever he hears Pakistanis mention Tahrir Square - the famous square in Cairo, where thousands of protestors gathered on January 25, 2011, and stayed put till the overthrow of the thirty years old dictatorship of Hosni Mubarak.

Tahrir Square has been re-injected into Pakistan’s political vocabulary, after Canadian-Pakistani religious scholar, Tahirul Qadri, returned to Pakistan and on December 23, 2012 declared that he will hold the biggest “Tahrir Square gathering in the world in Islamabad, on January 14, 2013.

Qadri claims that he will bring four million people to Islamabad. At the height of the Tahrir Square revolution in Cairo, the numbers reportedly never exceeded three hundred thousand.

“Bakistanis (Arabic for Pakistani) are clueless about Tahrir Square,” claims Samad, candidly in his Middle Eastern accent, sitting at an outdoor café in Islamabad.

When asked to explain, he replies: “How can Bakistanis or anyone else in the world understand what is happening in Tahrir Square, when Egyptians have not understood the changes happening in their country?”

People sitting around Samad’s table in the café, look at him, with confusion on their faces.

Samad reading the confusion adds: “Tahrir Square was the first electronic revolution in the world. Whatever happened - all of it was organised through the social media. Even today no leader or political party in Egypt can claim complete ownership of what happened or happens in Tahrir Square. Basically one can’t define Tahrir Square. It has no definition.”

According to Samad, the kind of environment that exists in Cairo does not exist in Islamabad.

“In the recent Tahrir Square protests, which took place in reaction to the constitutional reforms of President Morsi, the Egyptian civil society directly battled it out with the religious parties on the streets and won. The religious parties had to retreat.

But can the Pakistani civil society put up a fight against religious parties on the streets,” Samad asks the Pakistanis gathered around the table.

The question goes unanswered.

Samad — after having interacted with Pakistanis from different walks of life — puts forward three reasons why Pakistanis are stuck in a time warp, when it comes to Tahrir Square.

“First the Saudi model — many Pakistanis look at all things Middle Eastern from a Saudi-Gulf prism - second the occidental model — in which many Pakistanis just generalise Arabs as backward ‘camel jockeys’ — third the army model — because Pakistanis are in awe of their army, they think Egyptians have the same limitation.”

But at the table there is also confusion about Tahirul Qadri, a gentleman who claims to have a Tahrir Square franchise.

Samad asks the obvious question, which a lot of Pakistanis are still asking: “Who is this guy?”

Bringing novelty to the discussion is Adnan Ahmed, 32, a Pakistani, who went to school in the US.

This is how Adnan answer’s Samad’s query: “If one were to see some of his (Qadri) videos, available on social media, he comes across as a Southern Baptist preacher in the US – where it is common for preachers to claim that they have had direct conversations with people who lived hundreds of years ago.”

A journalist sitting on the table adds: “The media in general have rejected his ideas. Even though in his public appearances, he used the standard vocabulary that the media often employs to attract and provoke urban audiences — corruption, economic collapse, feudalism etc...”

“So it hasn’t worked,” wonders Samad.

“I don’t know anyone who has bought into his theories,” says Adnan.

“The excitement seems to have evaporated, after the military spokesperson clarified that the army is firmly behind the democratic dispensation,” adds the journalist.

“Then what options does Qadri have,” asks Samad.

No options. The show must go on, is the general consensus on the table.

“But whatever happens on January 14, in Islamabad, it will not be a Tahrir Square,” insists Samad.

“Hanooz Tahrir Square Dur Ast (Tahrir Square is still far away),” chimes in Adnan.

Comments (31) Closed

hafiz Jan 06, 2013 02:15pm
We know what he means by "Tahrir Square". He wants to become PM Morsi.
Anya Sharif (@AnyaSharif) Jan 07, 2013 06:38am
hafiz Jan 06, 2013 02:18pm
It was a metaphor for chaos and anarchy. It is not going to bring any change in the political landscape. Please give this nation some credit. We are not that dumb.
BEA Jan 06, 2013 12:49pm
all these immams need to stop all these speeches about Tahrir Square look what happened in Egypt, people are starving no money no fuel i was in Egypt recently and 3 people were murdered at a petrol station because they have no fuel no work for the bus drivers and taxi drivers, when i spoke to one of the drivers i was told that the MBH had made lots of promises they had no intentions of keeping the people of Egypt were fed up with Mubarrak now they wish he was still in power at least they had food and fuel. So Tahrir Sq was not the be all and end all for Egypt. and it will not sort out the problems in Pakistan.
Zahid Iqbal Jan 07, 2013 07:58pm
What, you know the future? Let's wait until 14 January..
Asghar Jan 07, 2013 04:36am
I am agreed with you, we should go with tahirul qadri to islamabad because bring change in pakistan. our all leaders are corrupted and they are making politics of dead body.
Zahid Iqbal Jan 07, 2013 07:52pm
What planet have you been on, brother? Dr Qadri isn't calling for a 'caliphate', nor is he an Islamist. All he's asking is for electoral reforms to ensure fair elections and the full implementation of the Constitution on the electoral process. Nothing about 'caliphate'. He's trying to strengthen democracy.
Tawheed Jan 07, 2013 02:58am
And then those Imams will be prosecuted for dabbling in politics which is not what they are supposed to do...
ash mirza (USA) Jan 07, 2013 04:28am
Shahid Masud saheb, you are right... I am in USA i will be the next leader .. LOL ash Mirza (USA)
Kamran Jan 07, 2013 04:12am
Naeem. You hit the nail on the head. If he has not lied, why doesn't he say so? Why doesn't he explain the apparent inconsistency in his statements? I have yet to see a more brazen faced liar as him.
Shahid Masud12 Jan 07, 2013 01:04pm
Dear ash mirza, I live in USA too you become the leader and I will be your deputy!!!!!!!!!!!
Mustafa Razavi Jan 06, 2013 09:49am
Mustafa Razavi Jan 06, 2013 09:48am
I think Samad is totally confused about what Dr. Qadri means by Tahrir square. Dr. Qadri means the original Tahrir square that over threw corrupt and foreign-backed tyrants led by Mubarak. What Samad is referring to is the second Tahrir square where a minority wanted to prevent the majority from ratifying a constitution. The anti-Islamic group has the right to voice their opinion, however they were over ruled by 64% of the Egyptian people, I suspect Samad represents the other 36%, which is fine, being in minority never proved you are wrong, however pro-West groups have a tendency to confuse democracy with consensus when they end up on the shorter end of the stick at the ballot box.
Abdur Razzaque Jan 07, 2013 09:29am
The Tahrir Square movement that ultimately brought and establish the Arab Spring in Egypt and elsewhere can any way be compared with the ambiguous road march of Dr. Qadri. Very few people knows about him in and outside of Pakistan. He doesn't have any particular political agenda, no calls or, a promise for the hopeless peoples, no calls for the re establishment of the beliefs of Unity, Faith and Discipline. Even there is no promise for the Islam too. The peoples they are tired and broken heart, they need a promising peaceful life. A life that will bring equality, and justice for every body regardless. Can Dr. Qadri fulfill those things and conditions that the Pakistani peoples that have been asking for since 1947?
Zahid Iqbal Jan 07, 2013 08:01pm
I can't believe there are people who don't seem to understand the difference between rhetoric and literal! Calling something by a particular term doesn't automatically confer every characteristic of that term.
waqas Jan 06, 2013 12:35pm
Dr. Qadri will give a definition to Tahir Square on the 14th January, and all people will understand and see.
fusstrated Jan 06, 2013 10:50pm
I hope you realize Quaid-e-Azam lived abroad for a great deal of his life. Pakistanis who live abroad are doing incredible work for the country, and they always have.
Rahil Jan 06, 2013 02:53pm
Religon and religous people should be kept out of the State!
S.H.Zaidi Jan 06, 2013 07:39pm
This debate about the term Tahrir Square is irreverent. What Dr. Quadri perhaps means is simply that the people would demonstrate that they do not accept the rulers who have made their life miserable through their incompetence and corruption. The correspondence with Tahrir Square ends there. Although we all want democracy, we want even more that our economy should improve. We would like the so-called democratic leaders to create a better, more prosperous and secure Pakistan. If they cannot deliver, the people have no use for them, whether they come through elections or otherwise! And who does not know the worth of the kind of elections that are conducted in Pakistan? The power structure of our society is such that only a certain kind of leaders is 'electable.' Unless there is change in this socioeconomic power structure, there is little hope that the elections would throw up good leaders. So, my dear Watson, do not try to find in Pakistan a situation identical to that in Egypt. Mubarak was a dictator; here in Pakistan we have democratic dictators who are in many respects worse than real dictators. Tahir Quadri has nothing to lose. If he is able to achieve nothing, he will go back. The Pakistani people would continue to be oppressed by their leaders, hereditary or otherwise, who should better be called dealers. The kind of reaction we see from our current leaders, who are all 'in' power in some way or another, should be enough to convince the people that there is weight in what Tahir ul Qadri says. Think again, and try to find what the true objective of politics per se should be! The talk of long March is merely a way to draw attention to the main problem outlined above!
Ram Jan 06, 2013 07:33pm
Some said...Best religion....worst followers!
Shahid Masud 12 Jan 06, 2013 03:01pm
Dear Naved you are right we don't value our leaders once they are out of power but did you ever think why it's like that, if not please let me say it , during the time when these so called leaders are in power they never do anything for the betterment of the nation the only thing that is on top of their priority list is to accumulate more wealth and therefore are involved in corruption and nepotism , that's the reason there is not a single leader in the history of Pakistan that the nation could be proud of. By the way what good can we expect from these foreigners who for personal reasons preferred to become the citizen of another country and in my opinion any such person has no right to rule the country.
Jamshed Khan Jan 07, 2013 12:53pm
Where did I say imams should get into politics? I am only saying they can play a majopr role in 'correcting' our society, considering millions listen to them four time a month (at least). Instead of calling each others kafirs they should pay attention to real issues that our society faces today - dishonesty, bribery, lies, fraud, and so on.
Shahid Masud 12 Jan 06, 2013 01:14pm
Shame on us that we can't produce a leader who is really one of us . It's a pity that the nation always has to look for a leader from abroad, for example Bilawal from Dubai / UK , Altaf Husain from UK and now Quadery from Canada . Wakeup people of Pakistan if you don't want these foreigners to rule you anymore.
Akram Jan 06, 2013 01:13pm
something tells me Dr qadri maybe surprised if no one turns up Jan14th. His call for a caliphate is at odds with Pakistani values. Pakistanis have always distrusted the Maulvis, because they have little understanding about civil society outside the mosque. The Islamist argument portrays democracy as imperfect and their own ideology as perfect ordained by the almighty. No democrat claims democracy is perfect but it is the best and most just available. However the fact that islamist ideology has failed every time it has been attempted does not seem to deter Islamists who never learn from history. A famous English saying comes to mind; "Those who don't learn from history, are doomed to repeat it".
Batool Jan 06, 2013 12:56pm
Dr Qadri gave the example of Tahrir Square because on the 14th of January the people of Pakistan will rise to demand their rights of freedom. It was a metaphoric comparison I believe.
Naved Jan 06, 2013 02:25pm
My friend, all the leaders name you mentioned basically rosed from the Pakistani soil. Unfortunately, due to one reason or an other our leaders can not survive in Pakistan, once they are not in power. In general our leaders don't value the country as such & as a nation we don't value our leaders (once they are not in power).
Jamshed Khan Jan 06, 2013 01:30pm
Millions of people go to mosques every Friday and listen to sermons. However, as a nation our honesty has deteriorated with time. If our imams have a little bit of national interest and the interest of the people they can start a positive revolution from the mosques by talking about issues that really matter to the people today instead of polishing their own shops, in the light of Islam: Honesty, speaking truth, looking after our neighbours.... and the list is long.
Raza Jamali Jan 07, 2013 07:38am
Naeem Jan 06, 2013 02:45pm
This "import" feels that he can fool the people of Pakistan!!! Just google his videos and take a look at them? He is a preacher who lies when itsuits him, says one thing and means something else. He is a fraud and unfortunatelyalso supported by some foreign element. Is he in Pakistan to create some mischief?
mansoor Jan 07, 2013 03:22pm
I want to share a little old story, one of my seniors who practiced long time ago in small town of punjab, stated that one young man came to him after completing his law degree, and spent some time, after six month my senior told him that young man legal profession is not suitable for you go and search some other profession wherer drama and acting could be acknowledged, here my senior paused a little and smiled and said look he heard my advise and now he is famous.
Shahid Jan 06, 2013 05:10pm
Dr Tahir could be a political non entity and he is not likely to cause much stir in the political scene of Pakistan as well. But I wonder the questions he has raised really matter. With the type of corrupt leaders we have and their insistance on continuing with the same will lead us no where. Look at all the political parties who shamelessly deny intra party elections and insist on dynastic political setup. How can you inspire your young generation to work hard and excel in education when one of your Chief Minister shamelessly says, " A degree is a degree, weather actual or fake" and more shamefully none one raises his eyebrow. Dr Qadri or no Qadri we must question this political status quo and desist the tendancy of protecting a corrupt political lot in the name of Democracy. Let this democracy be, Governemnt of the people, for the people and by the people" instead of " Government OFF the people, BUY the people and FAR the people.