The Punjab government has decided to deal with Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) and Tehreek Minhajul Quran (TMQ) chief Allama Tahirul Qadri and his followers sternly, as police detained dozens of people associated with the fiery cleric from several cities besides sealing off all roads leading to Qadri’s house and the Minhaj Secretariat in Lahore.
Large contingents of police have been deployed in the Barkat Market and Akbar Chowk areas of Garden Town and Model Town in Lahore while raids are being carried out in several cities to build pressure on PAT and TMQ supporters.
The action began after the Lower Mall Police were told to seal the FIR registered against Qadri earlier in the evening. A citizen has charged Qadri with inciting violence by ordering his followers to attack the homes of law enforcement personnel if the Punjab government tries to thwart his much-touted ‘revolution’.
Meanwhile, a large number of baton-wielding Minhaj followers, including several women and young girls, have also gathered outside Qadri’s residence to resist any government action against their leader.
Addressing a press conference at 3.30 in the morning, Qadri said that the police had detained several party workers while those coming to Minhaj Secretariat for participation in the Aug 10 Youm-e-Shuhada event were being stopped at police barricades.
“The Punjab government is resorting to undemocratic actions against us. I’m warning Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif that if they try to disrupt our event and their government forces use violence against my party workers, the Youm-e-Shuhada would turn into Youm-e-Inqilab,” said the fiery cleric.
Qadri said that he had summoned a meeting of his allied parties today (Thursday) to discuss their strategy in wake of the government’s crackdown. He also directed his followers to stand their ground and keep alert to the government’s moves, pleading them to attend the Aug 10event “by all means”.
Reiterating his call for civil disobedience, Qadri urged police and civil administration officials to stop obeying the Punjab government’s “illegal” orders.
“You are servants of the state, not of the Sharifs. It’s your moral obligation not to resort to violence on peaceful protesters. But I warn you that if any of my workers is harmed, we will avenge it,” Qadri said.