LAHORE: Tehrik-i-Minhajul Quran chief Dr Tahirul Qadri warned the Punjab government on Sunday that if it tried to obstruct its Jan 14 march on Islamabad he would unleash half of its participants on Lahore.
“We have been informed by leaders of our district, tehsil and union councils that local police and administration are harassing our party workers, people and transporters in a bid to stop them from joining the long march. Therefore, we ask the Punjab government to stop using such tactics; otherwise half of the four million marchers will turn to Lahore and the rest will go to Islamabad,” he warned while talking to reporters after addressing a gathering of party workers, lawyers, farmers and other people.
The TMQ chief said since he would be leading two million people to Islamabad, he would have no control over the other two million who might turn towards Lahore if the march was obstructed.
“Although our long march will be 100 per cent peaceful, I will not be responsible for those marching towards Lahore if the government doesn’t stop creating hurdles. The government will be responsible for such a situation,” he said.
Dr Qadri criticised leaders of various political parties and said that they always ignored their dedicated workers while awarding party tickets in elections. Instead of workers, he added, they nominated their offspring and relatives to contest elections.
He said the electoral system was corrupt and added that he knew well about the politics of ‘Biradaris’ and deals for winning seats. The TMQ’s agenda is to change this system.
He criticised the release of millions of rupees of funds in the name of development projects and said it was tantamount to pre-poll rigging.
Dr Qadri said the allegations being levelled against him were part of a character-assassination campaign.
He said the rulers who had failed to curb terrorism in the country were now trying to stop his march on the pretext that there were threats of bomb blasts. He appealed to the federal government against indulging in such tactics.
In reply to question about reports that Interior Minister Rehman Malik intended to visit the TMQ office, he said would inform the minister about his peaceful struggle in details if he came.
PML-N STANCE: Responding to DR Qadri’s warning, PML-N leader Senator Pervaiz Rashid said the Punjab government did not stop any political party from holding public meetings or protest demonstrations.
“We reject all allegations levelled by Mr Tahirul Qadri that the Punjab government is impounding vehicles and stopping his workers from participating in the long march. We are not at all doing this,” he said in a statement. It was like a candidate who cried after losing elections, he added.
“Mr Qadri held a public meeting in Lahore on Dec 23 for which the Punjab government provided excellent security arrangements,” he said, adding that posters and banners relating the TMQ march and its Dec 23 public meeting could be seen all over the province.
“It is a proof that the Punjab government does not believe in stopping any political party from holding public meetings or rallies in the province,” Senator Rashid said.