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Tehrik-i-Minhajul Quran (TMQ) chief Tahirul Qadri. — File Photo by AFP

LAHORE, Dec 28: Tehrik Minjhajul Quran chief Dr Tahirul Qadri is not a candidate for the general election but will accept the challenge of becoming the caretaker prime minister in case “millions of participants in his long march and the nation force him to do so”.

The TMQ chief held a marathon press conference in Model Town on Friday where he tried to dispel ‘certain apprehensions’ about his movement.

On one occasion he broke down while giving details about funding for the movement. He said his wife and daughters had already sold their gold ornaments and were now planning to sell their house to fund the TMQ long march.

“I am determined not to contest the upcoming election. However, if the participants in my march and the nation as well press me to become the caretaker premier, (which I really don’t want) I will be ready to accept this challenge by doing unprecedented electoral reforms amid massive accountability for the first time in the history of the country,” he said.

He said he and the TMQ had a one-point agenda — the formation of an honest and trustworthy caretaker government after involving all stakeholders. And this should introduce electoral reforms in order to bring a leadership for the country that could represent all segments of society, including journalists, farmers, workers, lawyers and traders.

The TMQ chief said as the armed forces and the judiciary were important part of the country’s democratic and electoral system, there was no harm in taking them on board. “We call military in flood-hit areas, for collection of bills and for several civic issues. Why are we afraid of consulting them on such an important issue. Similarly, we can involve judiciary in this process by seeking legal and constitutional guidance in this regard,” he said.

Dr Qadri stressed that the long march would be peaceful as the TMQ would not allow anyone to take over the country on the pretext of their march and law and order.

Commenting on rampant corruption in the country, he said it was a major problem and a cause of weakening of state institutions. He quoted a former prime minister of New Zealand, David Lange, as having told him in late 80s about huge kickbacks by a Pakistani premier.

He said Bob Hawke (a former Australian PM) had informed him about the demand of 30 per cent share by a top Pakistani authority when Australia planned making foreign investment in Pakistan.

He expressed his confidence in the present judiciary and military leadership, saying both were playing a vital role in saving the democratic system. He said the TMQ had also established its own electoral institution led by former election commission secretary Kunwar Dilshad.

At the end of discussion, a woman claiming herself as an expatriate from Italy gave a donation of Rs600,000 to the TMQ chief for funding the long march.

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