Imran, Qadri looking for a way out of Islamabad?

Updated 28 Sep 2014


Tahirul Qadri addresses supporters while flanked by Imran Khan in Islamabad, September 2, 2014. — Photo by Reuters
Tahirul Qadri addresses supporters while flanked by Imran Khan in Islamabad, September 2, 2014. — Photo by Reuters

ISLAMABAD: Imran Khan and Dr Tahirul Qadri appear to be looking for a way out of the capital. At least that is the impression conveyed by their separate speeches on Saturday night.

Mr Khan told the capacity crowd at D-Chowk that he wanted the sit-in in front of parliament to continue, but that he would go around the country to rally further support for his cause. “We’ll see on Sunday whether Lahore belongs to the Sharifs or the PTI,” he said.

Dr Qadri, who had already promised his followers that they would be home for Eid, also gave the Inqilab marchers a ‘green light’ to return home, saying they would also be taking their movement for revolution countrywide.

A spokesperson for the Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT), Umar Riaz Abbasi, told Dawn that the party had no plan to perform animal sacrifices at the sit-in, adding that they would allow people to return to their homes for Eid, but did not specify whether they would return.

Both leaders, on Saturday, promised their supporters that they would be visiting other cities to rally support for their cause, indicating that dharna fatigue had finally started to set in on the marchers.

Both leaders announce plans to take protest to other cities; PAT chief allows followers to head home for Eid

Imran Khan, the leader of the protesting Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf, seems to be enjoying the movement he has launched against the elected government. In his speech to a considerable Saturday night audience, he called on the prime minister – whose resignation is his basic demand – to keep his resignation in his pocket for a few more days.

“Wait a little more so that everyone knows who they are dealing with. There is no rush,” he said, in a mock childish tone, much to the joy of the audience, which responded with applause.

“We were looking forward to the day when they would confront these liars in court,” he said, referring to the PML-N government. He was happy that cases against the rulers had finally been opened and was hopeful that justice would be swift for the prime minister, the interior minister and the Islamabad police chief.

He said that the current government had already become “a thing of the past”. He also questioned the logic of Mr Sharif’s trip to New York. “He could’ve issued the same statements from Islamabad; he accomplished nothing. Look at Modi, the Indian prime minister; everyone from American businessmen to Obama are queuing to meet him,” Imran Khan said.

Tired followers

Following Dr Qadri’s announcement, PAT marchers were seen packing up their tents and preparing to return home after 45 days on Constitution Avenue. While most people were happy to finally be heading home, they were disillusioned by the futility of their presence in the capital.

Rafaqat Sheikh was removing his tattered tent with his children, while his wife was packing their luggage. A resident of Sukkur, Mr Sheikh came to the capital to take part in the PAT sit-in on August 14.

“I am a staunch believer in the cause, but it was beginning to look like life was at a standstill here,” he said.

He said that he had lost his job back home because he had been absent for too long.

“Although we are happy to be going home and celebrating Eid with our families, but where is the revolution which Dr Qadri promised us,” he asked.

Fifty-four-year-old Zameer Hussain from Muzaffargarh echoed the sentiment. He had come to Islamabad on August 15 and had heard during his stay in the capital that his home had been destroyed in the recent floods that swept the region a few weeks ago.

“I lost my home in the floods, because I wasn’t at my native village to secure our belongings,” he said.

“I know that we’ve been allowed to go back home, but where do I go? I don’t even have a home anymore,” he regretted.

Published in Dawn, September 28th , 2014