ISLAMABAD: In a bid to lure participants to the long march on January 14, Tehrik Minhaj-ul-Quran (TMQ) led by Dr Tahirul Qadri has placed huge orders with almost all the main food caterers of the city.
The party has also managed to arrange food for the participants (which it claims would be in millions) from Bari Imam and Golra Sharif, the two shrines located in the suburbs of the capital city.
Further investigations reveal that members of Tehrik Minhaj-ul-Quran in NA-48 (urban area) and NA-49 (rural area) were managing the arrangements for a long stay of the marchers in the city and food is one key segment of the whole stay.
“A large order has been placed with the food managers in the shrines, and we have also received an advance payment in this regard from Tehrik Minhaj-ul-Quran,” a stallholder at Bari Imam told Dawn.
A visit to Bari Imam revealed that there are at least seven cooks running food stalls there.
A cook while sharing details repeatedly requested anonymity because he was afraid that he might run into trouble with the local administration.
“Most of the orders from the party are rice and chicken curry. There is no doubt that this is the biggest order we have received in the last four years,” he revealed.
“We have hardly seen such huge orders since the start of the current government because no major political activity happened in the city in which orders would be placed in such large quantities,” he added.
In Golra Sharif the situation is no different.
“The orders are huge and we will be delivering the food by early morning to the contractors, who got food contracts from the party and are acting as agents for it,” said a cook in Golra Sharif.
Meanwhile, Ghulam Ali Raza, the spokesman for Tehrik Minhaj-ul-Quran in Islamabad, told this reporter: “We have placed orders for more than 5,000 cauldrons in the twin cities.”
He added that a similar order of thousands of packets of rice (chicken pulao) has been placed with a famous eatery in Blue Area.
According to a security official, the same eatery had provided pulao in over 20,000 disposable packets during a rally on May 12, 2007, which was addressed by former President Gen Pervez Mushrraf and managed by the Pakistan Mulsim League-Quaid.
“The political workers had been brought in from inner Punjab and were served food on the lawns of the Pakistan Sports Complex. The rice and chicken were purchased from the same eatery,” said the security official.
The party spokesman added that a large number of political workers would be arriving in the wee hours of January 14 and will be served breakfast as well.
“Workers coming from outside the city will be provided naan, parathas and tea, and we have placed orders with almost every restaurant in the twin cities,” claimed Mr Raza.
He further claimed that party workers will be accompanied with trucks carrying dry fruits and other rations so that they can manage a long stay in front of the Parliament House.
“We will not be leaving our places and are coming with our blankets and mattresses to sit in front of the D-Chowk of the Parliament House. We are all prepared to brace the cold weather of the city,” asserted the party official.
An official of the Ministry of Interior said that they know about the catering arrangements being managed by Dr Qadri’s party.
“We are just observing at the moment. All we are concerned about is the law and order situation, which should stay in control otherwise we will wait for the orders to control any untoward situation in the city,” asserted the official.
He maintained that placement of such a large food order is usual for political parties but carrying dry fruits for a longer stay would be a concern for them.