ISLAMABAD: With Dr Tahirul Qadri gaining strength by the day after giving a call for Jan 14 long march for an impartial caretaker set-up followed by comprehensive electoral reforms, the PML-N strongly believes that he is acting on a well-researched plot to derail democracy.
What worries PML-N’s leaders the most is the increasing support the religious scholar has been receiving since his massive rally on Dec 23 in Lahore, particularly from parties in the ruling coalition.
Initially, it was the PTI and MQM, and now the PML-Q, a major coalition partner of the PPP at the centre, has extended support to Dr Qadri’s call for an impartial caretaker set-up and electoral reforms.
Talking to Dawn, PML-N deputy secretary general Ahsan Iqbal said: “It is a matter of great concern not only for our party but for all democratic forces because Mr Qadri throughout is talking about extra-constitutional measures which will only push us backwards.”
Mr Qadri and his supporters are talking about a change through a protest rally at a time when a truly democratic transition of power is in sight for the first time in the country’s history.
“Had it only been the PTI, the PML-N in particular and people in general wouldn’t have raised any questions. But now the two coalition parties have announced their support for Dr Qadri which is disturbing everybody,” Mr Iqbal said.
“With the two coalition partners of the PPP sitting beside Dr Qadri, the PML-N is bound to get an impression as if President Asif Zardari is behind the whole game plan and he wants to postpone the coming general election,” he said.
And with the US withdrawal from Afghanistan due next year, the PML-N also suspected that some international players might be interested in maintaining status quo in Pakistan, he said “But postponement of the election will be a disaster for the country, maybe leading to bloodshed.”
He said his party was closely watching the fast emerging developments and would take every possible measure to counter them.
Mr Iqbal said that although under the Constitution it was only for the leaders of the house and opposition in the National assembly to decide about selection of the caretaker prime minister, the PML-N would engage all political forces in the process, as it had done before the appointment of the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC).
He said there was no hurdle in selection for the caretaker set-up and the process would be completed in accordance with the Constitution.
Meanwhile, a statement issued by Leader of Opposition in National Assembly Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said the PML-Q and MQM were setting new records of political opportunism in the country.
Both the parties had not only worked as cheerleaders for former president Gen Pervez Musharraf but also provided him the much-needed support in parliament for his extra-constitutional acts, he said.