By Shahzad Raza –
Tahir-ul-Qadri’s revolution again proved a storm in the teacup leaving behind serious credibility issues for future reformers in a state which badly needs genuine messiahs
If Sigmund Freud ever met almost-revolutionary, Dr Tahir-ul-Qadri, he would have dedicated a whole book to interpret his dreams.
The dreams he reportedly saw and shared with the world were as complex as his personality. And discussing the content of his dreams may tantamount to committing blasphemy.
While Freud was unfortunate to miss the company of the almost-revolutionary the people of Pakistan are not. A month ago the Canadian national returned from the land of frozen lakes and made the entire nation hostage to his unending sermons, false predictions and fake promises.
Acknowledge mentor is a trait among the decent people which the almost-revolutionary apparently never possessed. It was late Mian Sharif, the father of prime minister, who pampered and nurtured him decades ago. However, the almost-revolutionary never mentioned what he owed to the man who helped him and raised him when he was a no-body.
When the confines of Raiwind mosque suffocated him he tried his luck in the national politics. He saw the opportunity when Gen Musharraf imposed Martial Law in 1999. He was his passionate supporter when the dictator sought public opinion in his favor thorough presidential referendum in 2001. And he was rewarded too. He won a National Assembly seat in 2002 when Gen Musharraf orchestrated one of the most rigged elections in the country’s history.
The almost-revolutionary was dreaming about some big role under the tutelage of Gen Musharraf but bigger hacks and opportunists had already surrounded the dictator. He soon got disappointed with the General’s cold response, resigned and migrated to Canada. While receiving Canadian nationality he did not hesitate to take oath of allegiance to Queen and her heirs. Years later, the Supreme Court raised the same point while hearing his petition against the holding of 2013 general elections. The almost-revolutionary had no satisfactory answer in his defence.
It remained a mystery who prompted the almost-revolutionary to return and disrupt the last general elections. The amount of money he then spent was mind-boggling. The news-starved electronic media propagated his narrative without talking about his past with precision.
While he lived a luxurious life in Canada, thanks to his money-minting charity and schools network, he demanded accountability of the politicians before May 2013 general elections. His slogan at the time was “Save the State, Not Politics.” He campaigned for postponing the elections until all politicians were filtered through some strict accountability apparatus. The politicians, even Imran Khan, laughed at him and managed to convince him to leave the hapless nation alone.
His rent-a-crowd Dharna outside Parliament in 2013 comprised a few thousand followers and workers of the charity and schools he ran. Calling the show a revolution of hundreds of thousands of people, the almost-revolutionary started giving deadlines. The way he was thundering it seemed the People’s Party government would give in to pressure. But the almost-revolutionary failed to realize the power of democracy and craftsmanship of Pakistani politicians. The hourly deadlines kept on lapsing unnoticed and he became a national laughingstock.
As soon as the government sent a delegation to woo him, he agreed to end the Dharna as if waiting for a face-saving exit. The thorn of revolution nudged him again after almost one year. And this time the mission was to oust an elected prime minister and overthrow the entire democratic system.
When the Chaudhrys of Gujrat and Imran Khan had rendezvous in London with the almost-revolutionary, he was upbeat again. The PML-N government was committing blunder after blunder and its relations with the military establishment were touching the lowest ebb. The almost-revolutionary saw in it another God sent opportunity. The unfortunate incident of Model Town gave his anti-Nawaz or anti-democracy narrative a new impetus. He demanded resignation of the Sharif brothers, dissolution of assemblies, installation of the government of technocrats for strict accountability and implementation of his own 14-point reforms agenda.
Then began the story of two cousins: a fake revolution, and public jesting. Now the half-cooked revolution of the almost-revolutionary established one thing fair and square: no genuine revolution is expected in Pakistan in foreseeable future. Whether duration of Dharna broke any record or not, the amount of lies spoken would certainly have.
The almost-revolutionary and his self-professed cousin are a unique case that requires research papers and books to be understood. However, hardly anyone would like to waste time on this useless exercise. The people have started taking him non-serious because of his own conduct.
When the almost-revolutionary stormed the Constitutional Avenue and camped outside the Parliament House, he never thought of staying there for over two months. He was certain the establishment would throw Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif out of power. That was a fair assumption which turned out wrong.
The ghost of Model Town incident was haunting the PML-Nawaz government. And, therefore, when the two cousins ‘invaded’ Islamabad the government gave both of them an easy passage to Red Zone. Earlier, interior ministry had claimed to deploy more than 35,000 security personnel to deal with the protesters. The force was retreated to let both of them reach D-Chowk.
Encampment by the almost-revolutionary ended after two months. While he stayed within his temperature-controlled cozy container, the workers languished in the open braving heat, cold, rain, storm, diseases, tear gas, smell and what not. It was rare for the almost-revolutionary to come out and intermingle with the poor supporters. And when he did, he covered his nose to avoid the stench emitting from an open-air urinal.
As long as the almost-revolutionary stayed outside the Parliament House, he leveled serious allegations against so many people. Just like his cousin he never needed any evidence but a mike to allege, prosecute and sentence his opponents. He incited his followers to violence that included the attack on PTV headquarters. He now faces serious charges under Anti-Terrorism Act. His critics are now demanding his name on Exit Control List and that he must face the courts.
Years ago noted religious-political leader Shah Ahmed Noorani ripped the almost-revolutionary apart by issuing a decree against him. And a verdict of Lahore High Court describing him a ‘liar’ is still part of the record. For decades the almost-revolutionary and his blind followers have been living in a state of denial. The chances are remote in future that they would come out of it.
The writer is an Islamabad-based journalist and host of a current affairs show on Capital TV. He can be reached on Twitter @shahzadrez