Spearhead Analysis – 17.01.2013
From a largely forgotten cleric Dr Tahirul Qadri has become a household word and a familiar sight on TV screens and the front pages of newspapers. TV anchors and the participants in endless analyses and debates have sought to discern his past, his future and his ambitions, and above all who drives him to do what he is doing. No one believes that his agenda is purely reformist — everyone believes that after or during the reformation will emerge a political ambition. No one believes that his is a solo flight — everyone believes that his flight is guided and precision guided at that. If Dr Qadri and perhaps others think his venture will reach the conclusion he seeks then they are in for a disappointment because he has mounted a challenge to the state and its institutions on the basis of the inept performance of an elected government and a flawed political system. In a democracy such corrections come from free and fair elections and on that event the whole country is totally focused with the Supreme Court in an over watch role. This fact could not have been lost on Dr Qadri and those who support him.
Besides the people Dr Qadri has sought to draw the judiciary and the military into his fold. Both these institutions have maintained their distance and have left it to the government to deal with the situation. And the government has not done too badly in managing an event that could potentially have led to disastrous consequences. Their patience is being sorely tried even now as Islamabad remains in a semi-locked down state creating misery and difficulty for its inhabitants. Functionality has to be restored soon as the city cannot remain under siege. Rains are forecast over the next few days and that may be the tipping point for an end to the scenario.
Whether by intent, or unwittingly, Dr Qadri’s intervention has achieved significant goals. The people have understood that since the state has not empowered them by delivering the rule of law they must now seek empowerment by their own efforts. This was also starkly highlighted by the nationwide protests against the sectarian carnage in Quetta that finally led to the ouster of the provincial government. The other achievement is that he has pitted an enlightened moderate Islam against a violent extremist methodology that seeks to seize the state. The implication is that a non constitutional intervention if it ever was an option is no longer one and will not be tolerated. Also that free and fair election without pre-poll rigging will be demanded and the process monitored to ensure that this happens. The electorate also stands educated on its responsibility to elect those who can deliver. The spotlight has also been shone on the interim government to ensure that it has no mandate beyond caretaker status and that neither the military nor the judiciary should have any stakes in it. Much will depend on how the political institution now handles the situation to bring about what the people of Pakistan want.
It is also important to note that what is happening within Pakistan is against the backdrop of Pakistan’s efforts to improve relations with the US, its positive contribution to the end game in Afghanistan in the interest of peace and stability, a progressively normalizing relationship with India (notwithstanding the present LOC hiccup) and above all internal security that sets the stage for economic revival.
(Spearhead Analyses are collaborative efforts and not attributable to a single individual)