- Sources say Qadri has arrived in Pak on ‘business trip’ for fundraising during Ramzan and to engage with judicial probe in Model Town case
- PAT spokesman says fundraising events or any sort of agitation not on cards, new constitution being drafted for the party, reorganisation underway
Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) chief and firebrand religious scholar Dr Allama Tahirul Qadri either seems to have lost his steam and purpose or is strictly abiding by an “underhand deal” allegedly made with the federal government last year for not carrying his “revolutionary campaign”.
However, Dr Qadri is planning to launch a countrywide drive to recruit new men; thereby meaning that he no longer enjoys support of his followers due to a lack of credibility, Pakistan Today has learnt.
The quiet return of Dr Qadri from his Canadian alcove and his soft stance against the federal and Punjab governments has sent ripples among his fellows and followers equally. Moreover, the lack of any protest plan has left the members of the bereaved families whacked out.
Interestingly, Dr Qadri has also withdrew the legal course of action against those media icons against whom he had served legal notices under defamation law for blaming him for an “underhand deal” with the federal government – thereby meaning that the deal allegations were either true or Dr Qadri doesn’t care about those allegations anymore.
A PAT official on anonymity told Pakistan Today that unlike the events of the last year, no agitation or protests have been planned by the PAT chief this time around. He said that the quiet return of the revolutionary preacher from the US and his calm stay in Pakistan suggests that the allegations of an underhand deal between the government and Dr Qadri were “logical” and the post events have confirmed it.
“It looks as if Dr Qadri has arrived Pakistan on purely a ‘business trip’. It looks to be a visit to cover-up the Model Town killings as Dr Qadri, unlike past, plans to engage with the judicial probe process in Model Town massacre. A natural consequence of this engagement may be the closure of all cases against Sharif family for Model Town killings,” the source said.
“No agitation has been designed this time around which provides credence to the allegations of an underhand deal with the PML-N government. How can a politician-cum-revolutionist calmly sit idle in his home when there is no justice to the families of those brutally butchered by the police,” said the PAT official.
At least 16 young and old male and female followers of Dr Qadri had been brutally killed and dozens left seriously injured in July last year when Lahore Police had launched an “anti-encroachment” drive. Later on, Dr Qadri led a rally to Islamabad to bring about a revolution after failing to attain justice for the bereaved families. The protesters held a siege of the Parliament House for around three months but to no avail. While Dr Qadri was making congratulatory speeches to his followers of a revolution, another half a dozen believers were killed in clashes with police in Islamabad. Later, Dr Qadri announced to lift the siege empty handed, without any revolution or justice to his dead and injured followers.
This all happened amid allegations of an underhand deal between Dr Qadri and the federal government. Even Pakistan Today also printed a draft agreement signed between Minister for Planning Ahsan Iqbal and PAT President Dr Raheeq Abbasi. No contradiction was made.
Later on, Dr Qadri sent defamation notices to some journalists who had blamed him for receiving billions from the government as a quid-pro-quo. One of those journalists was Arshad Sharif, a reputed anchor of a private TV channel.
Investigations by this scribe have revealed that the defamation notice sent to Sharif by PAT chief was not followed up and that the PAT might have feared that the “dark secrets” of their funds and accounts might be revealed if the case proceeded as they had much more to hide than to reveal.
Talking to Pakistan Today, Arshad Sharif confirmed that Dr Qadri failed to pursue case against him in a court of law. “I replied (the PAT notice) with a counter-notice of Rs 20 billion to Dr Qadri in response to his notice of Rs 2 billion as my reputation and credibility is much more important to me than the Canadian national who owes his allegiance to foreigners, and whose wheeling-dealing and lies are now a matter of public record,” said Sharif.
NO PROTESTS THIS TIME AROUND: CONFIRMS PAT SPOKESMAN
When contacted, PAT spokesman Noorullah Siddiqui confirmed this scribe that Dr Qadri had no intention to hold any protest demonstration or any sort of agitation during his stay in Pakistan.
“Yes, no agitation or protest is on the cards. Actually Dr Qadri had left due to his health problems. Now he is feeling better and has returned home,” he added.
Asked if Dr Qadri was on a brief trip and whether any fundraising events were likely during Ramzan, Siddiqui said that no such events were being held.
“Yes, the major source of income of PAT and Minhajul Quran is funding by its members and sympathizers. But we don’t organise fundraisers. Rather there is a well-organised setup for funding of PAT and Minhajul Quran,” he added.
When asked whether Dr Qadri would leave for Canada after Ramzan, Siddiqui did not rule out the possibility of a foreign trip, saying that Dr Qadri may leave for abroad for treatment if needed. “Dr Qadri is not going anyway and would stay in Pakistan. He however may leave for medical treatment if any situation arises so,” he added.
STARTING A LEGAL BATTLE FOR JUSTICE:
Moreover, Siddiqui said that the PAT chief had reviewed the party’s strategy of protests and marches and had decided to join the judicial probe – a step which may result in providing legitimacy to the JIT report which had given a clean chit to chief minister Shahbaz Sharif, Rana Sanaullah and others.
“Dr Sahib has reviewed PAT policy of not engaging with the judicial process. Now we are more serious to win justice for the martyrs of the Model Town massacre. We plan to get engaged with the judicial probe into the Model Town massacre. Our legal team, led by Barrister Ali Zafar, would try to help implement the original report of the joint investigation team (JIT) which had fixed responsibility over Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah and others.”
“We will produce all witnesses before the court while all forensic evidence of those involved in the killings would also be submitted including TV footage and videos recorded during the police attack on the innocent civilians. We will make sure no one escapes the law,” he added.
Asked whether Dr Qadri had trashed his revolution plans, Siddiqui said that a new constitution was being drafted for the party while reorganisation was also underway.
“Political struggle would continue unabated once the reorganisation is completed. We are organising our units at union council levels. Once reorganisation is completed, the PAT would take part in the upcoming local body polls to bring about a revolution in the country,” he added.
Moreover, Dr Qadri also plans to unveil a “Peace Curriculum” in Pakistan on July 29.
“The mega event would be held at a local hotel in Islamabad to provide a curriculum for students and youth to sensitise and help them stay conscious about the menace of extremism, sectarianism and terrorism. This would help the youth learn how to counter the narrative of the extremist and rather build a new counter narrative against terrorist outfits,” Siddiqui concluded.
The lack of pursuance of defamation cases by PAT chief against journalists for allegations of an underhand deal with the federal government suggest either Dr Qadri lacks commitment to pursue court cases or the allegations of a deal with the government had credence. In any case, it reflects that the bereaved families of the martyrs are destined to more desperation, hopelessness and despair. This might also lead to a political demise for Dr Qadri’s PAT as he has chose a path of losing credibility and public trust.