Who is Islamic cleric Dr. Tahir ul-Qadri? And why should Pakistan care?

Posted: February 12, 2013 in General, News and politics, Political
Tags: , , , , , , ,

He only arrived from Canada last month and already he’s sparking protests and making headlines with his demands for a radical overhaul of the current political system.

Why is a Canadian Islamic cleric marching on the streets of Pakistan and talking about creating a “peaceful” Tahrir Square in Islamabad?

This is the question which has been perplexing many political analysts and TV anchors in the South Asian country over the past few weeks. This weekend supporters of Dr. Tahir ul Qadri, a dual Canadian nationality holder who arrived in Pakistan last month, led a march of tens of thousands (it was supposed to have been millions) from Lahore to Islamabad to stage a sit-in in order to bring about political reforms in the country. His demands include the dissolution of the Election Commission and ensuring the candidates standing for election pay taxes. He has also made a call on dissolving the assemblies and the formation of a caretaker government.

But what gives a religious scholar, particularly one who has been living in Canada for some seven years, the right to put forward such radical demands? The timing of this protest, only months before a scheduled national election, is also troubling; it risks derailing an already fragile democracy.

Certainly Qadri is a contradictory man. While he presents himself as a supporter of democracy, he was elected to parliament under the previous dictatorship of General Pervez Musharaf in 2002. A bigger question to ask is where he is getting all these funds to spend on his campaign? Since last month the city of Lahore has been flooded with Qadri posters advertising his arrival and call for change. TV advertisements have also been airing frequently. On the backs of rickshaws his photo has become the most popular advertisement staring back at all vehicle drivers. One TV station at his sit-in in Islamabad interviewed a woman who described how she had never planned to come to the protest. But after her power supply and cable TV were cut-off she decided to join the protest as she was so fed-up. A few protesters even talked about having traveled all the way from Canada and the United States to participate.

 

Lots of q’s asked to him which are still unanswered by him.

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