At a late night dinner in Islamabad there is a consensus amongst guests that Tahirul Qadri has no real intention to march.
The consensus is based on Qadri’s Friday press conference in which he named political figures – instead of real terrorists – in a future FIR, in case something happens to him.
According to one guest at the dinner: “Threat of FIR is bait for the government to arrest him and stop the march, so that he can return back to the world of international-preaching, after salvaging some moral authority.”
Nevertheless – march or no march – most guests at the dinner express the fear that has already been expressed by the trader community, in the form of a petition to the Islamabad High Court: “What if the march gets out of control and violence spreads across the city?”
The fear of most residents is connected to what happened in September 2012 during the blasphemous film riots, where if it hadn’t been for the Islamabad police putting up a “fist-fight” with the protesters, violence would have gotten out of control.
Referring to Qadri’s press conference, another guest laments: “What makes it worse is the symbolism Qadri used in the press conference. He called the march against Yazid, meaning residents of Islamabad are evil: city of Yazid supporters.”
“Such symbolism is enough to encourage non-residents to enter the city with loot and plunder in mind,” adds the guest.
A younger guest at the dinner expresses his frustration: “I feel like I am living in Gotham city,” referring to the fictional city of Batman, where there is always a character planning to takeover or destroy the city.
“Gotham city without a Batman,” remarks an older guest.
But another guest disagrees with the tautology: “Islamabad doesn’t have a Batman; it has ‘a Rehman Malik’.”
So then what are Mr Malik’s plans? Wonder most guests at the dinner.
“The only plan that I know of, so far, are orders to the local administration to remove illegally constructed bathrooms for the marchers,” says one guest.
Even for the most intelligent of guests at the dinner, the information offers a bit of a challenge: What could be Mr Malik’s strategy behind not allowing marchers access to a toilet?
One guest with political links claims: “Believe me, it’s a well-thought-out strategy,” hinting towards the possibility that it might have been hatched on the house on the hill.
The guest in order to make his point refers to Khushwant Singh’s novel Delhi, in which the author alludes to thousands of homeless people on the streets of Delhi, who on a desi diet of “chapatti and mustard mesh”, become environmentally threatening in a post-dinner scenario.
The guest makes the connection: “You see its mustard season – G.T. road left and right will be adorned with mustard as marchers make their way towards Islamabad – plus Qadri in his press conference hinted towards ‘vegetarian naans’ as one of the items on the menu for the marchers.”
“While on the other hand, for the Islamabad police, food arrangements have been made at the Islamabad Sports Complex with full access to toilet facilities,” adds the guest.
“Just imagine: once the effect of vegetarian naans kicks in, with no toilets, we are looking at an environmental catastrophe,” warns the guest.
“And you know how serious residents of Islamabad are when it comes to environmental issues. Once the marchers begin to ‘violate’ environmental laws, the narrative will shift in police’s favour, giving them the moral and legal authority to evict environmental polluters from the city,” predicts the guest.