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War of words

January 18, 2013

THE threat to the system having been averted, presumably it is safe to talk about the linguistic litter Dr Tahirul Qadri’s long march generated. It seems that the good doctor is not bad at all when it comes to cursing his opponents. He continued to be in form after the agreement with the government on Thursday, referring to Interior Minister Rehman Malik as shaitaan or the devil. Dr Qadri had earlier accused Mr Malik of trying to kidnap him from the comfort of his famous container. He could hardly contain himself post-accord and let one fly at Mr Malik, a prominent PPP face that had missed out on Dr Qadri’s hospitality, container-style, for obvious reasons.

With a doctorate of his own from a prestigious Pakistani university, Mr Malik proved himself to be quite Dr Qadri’s equal — if not for the style of oratory then certainly for his choice of words. The minister had clearly been hurt by the snub delivered to his own efforts to stop the march, and in his typically brazen manner let everyone know that he did not really find an ideal host in Dr Qadri. He then went on to follow a familiar course, which saw a whole line of respectable commentators poking fun at Dr Qadri’s appearance, to resort to a play on his name, capping it with a liberal comparison with the Pope. Qadri does rhyme with padri, the Urdu equivalent of priest. Even before the Islamabad march, padri had been frequently used for Dr Qadri, particularly in the context of his interfaith events. But hearing it from supposedly responsible officials such as Rehman Malik and provincial minister Rana Sanaullah, the Christian community was understandably not amused. It has every right to demand a withdrawal of statements in which the word padri was used in a derogatory manner.