ISLAMABAD: The long march of Minhaj ul Quran chief Dr.Tahirul Qadri gathered millions of people at the D-chowk Islamabad, reported Aaj news.
Qadri has started making his big speech. After a long night of watching this Tahrir Square like situation develop, here’s the latest that you should read for context of what’s happening in “Pakistan’s ‘Tahrir Square'”
– Qadri arrived in Islamabad after more than 30 hours on the road and addressed thousands on Islamabad’s Jinnah Avenue at around 2.00am on Tuesday morning
– In a short speech, he gave the deadline of 11am to the government to dissolve the parliament and resign
– 11am has come and gone, and there is finally movement from the Qadri camp yet. Qadri has re-emerged, but is still inside his bulletproof container, and images of him writing/reading from within the container are being shown.
– Insiders are saying there is a security threat they fear, and thus his emergence is being debated. An armoured stage, similar to one he spoke from last night, is not being allowed to be constructed. That’s why he’s speaking from within his container.
– According to the Qadri camp, there was one one violent incident earlier today, when police tried to arrest Qadri, resorted to firing, and injured one Minhaj ul Quran International Worker
– The crowds have swelled, multiplied really. Qadri’s spokesman claims 4 million people have turned up, but its anybody’s estimate. Even the most conservative count would hover around 50,000 people, which would make this the largest popular wave to hit Islamabad in living memory.
– The mood of the crowd is largely peaceful, but security forces are beginning to get fidgety. Paramilitary helicopters w/ ‘guns out’ are making very, very low passes over the crowds, which the people in the crowds told me are scare tactics.
– Spatially, the operating space is changing. The first wall of massive shipping containers that was between the parliament/presidency etc and Qadri’s supporters was removed yesterday when Qadri turned up. There is a second, final wall, behind which are the bulk of police and paramilitary rangers.
– Most of those in attendance are young. And middle class. And angry. But not violent.
Tahirul Qadri begins to address the crowd of tens of thousands of people at D-chowk Islamabad.
This long march is to be named as ‘Islamabad declaration’. This revolutionary march is totally peace and absolutely democratic and constitutional, absolutely lawful, he said.
Democratic and electoral reforms have seven points.
We are here for the stability of democracy. We are not here to destabilise this process.
He ask permission from the crowd to formally begin his speech.
My brother and sisters i want to be clear from basis of reality on behalf of million of people with me that this march is completely constitutional we are here in-front of par house just to save this country. we want to put democratic in its latter and spirit we don’t want derailment of constitution, not against law of land.
We need to delete the corruption from this land.
We have no electricity, gas, water, no basic necessities what sort of democratic parliament or government we have??
Had the participants of this long march barged into the parliament, the assemblies, no force would be able to prevent it.”
“However, we don’t believe in undemocratic means. Neither I am emotionally-driven, nor are the participants. This is not an emotional outpour,” said the MQI chief.
He said, “Had I directed them [participants] so, they would have conquered the assemblies within an hour.”
Judgements are passed by great independent judiciary but government do not execute them.
70% of parliament members do no pay tax! Criminals becoming the member of parliament, he added.
1. Qadri said that Pakistan was considered as a terrorist nation and placed the blame on the government for “bringing the country to this state.”
He said that the people of Pakistan wanted peace to prevail in Pakistan and that they wanted to propagate the message of peace across the world.
“We don’t want to give refuge to terrorists here,” said Qadri. “We don’t want people with their backs tattooed with ‘devilish symbols’.”
He said “if the clothes of a few ministers are taken off, who is to say, they might also have such tattoos on their backs.”
The MQI chief said that the people wanted the same peace in the country which existed during Prophet Muhammad’s (pbuh) period.
Meanwhile, Dr;qadri greeted the nation when the Supreme court ordered to arrest the Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf in the corruption case of Rental power plants.
Qadri in a high voice said that ‘We have achieved half of the success, lets wait for next 24 hours for the complete success”.
He ends his speech with a note of greetings for the nation.
‘PM Ashraf terms Qadri’s demand “unconstitutional’
The government on Tuesday declared the demands made by Tahirul Qadri, chief of Tehrik-i-Minhaajul Quran (TMQ), unconstitutional and unlawful and refused to accept them.
The government’s position came through after Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf held an emergency meeting in the wake of the developments since the arrival of Qadri and his supporters in Islamabad.
The deadline given by Tahirul Qadri was over as the clock hits 11am on Tuesday, but no steps were taken to act upon his demands.
Dr. Qadri to address the nation shortly.
He gave a deadline to the government, for its voluntary resignation and dissolution of all four assemblies.
“I will give you (the government) a deadline until tomorrow to dissolve the federal parliament and provincial assemblies. After that, the people’s assembly here will take their own decision”.
‘Views of participants’
The participants of the long march includes women children and men of all ages.
Supporter says he gives a voice to masses ruled by feudal and industrial elite incapable of redressing a weak economy, a crippling energy crisis, insurgencies and sectarian violence.
“Look what we are witnessing in our country today. We have no gas, no power, no petrol. Is this the country we aspired to? We should give Qadri a chance,” said Huma Nadeem, a 20-year-old college girl, in Islamabad.
“I’ll stay there until real change comes or until Tahirul Qadri asks me to go back. If I have to stay 10 years, I’ll stay there,” said Hafez Aamir Chishti, a cleric from Lahore who joined the protest march on his motorbike.
Qadri’s followers braved chilly temperatures of eight degrees Celsius (46 Fahrenheit) to camp out overnight in the capital.
“I advise the administration, government employees and security forces don’t be afraid… By tomorrow the government will have been changed, so don’t worry, I have come here to free you from this slavery,” Qadri said in his address in the early hours.
‘Tear-gas Shelling and firing at protestors’
Police fired tear gas on protesters in Islamabad as clashes erupted with followers of a cleric who led a march on the city demanding a peaceful “revolution” and the dissolution of parliament.
police fire tear gas shells at the crowd, after protesters brandishing sticks pelted stones at police around 500 metres (yards) from parliament.
The AFP reporter said demonstrators smashed vehicle windows as they continued their march and reached the edge of the capital’s “Red Zone”, which houses parliament and other key buildings.
Gunshots were heard though it was unclear who fired them. Both protesters and the authorities accused each other.
Eight police were injured in the clashes, Doctor Tanvir Afsar Malik, a spokesman for the Federal Government Services Hospital, told AFP.
Qadri spokesman Shahid Mursaleen accused police of opening fire as they tried to arrest the cleric on Tuesday morning.
“They opened fire on Dr Tahir-ul-Qadri’s car and tried to smash the windows,” he said.
Another march organiser, Muzamal Ahmed Khan, accused the authorities of trying to provoke them into violence.
“We were peaceful, we want to be peaceful, police fired tear gas and gunshots without any reason,” Muzamal Ahmed Khan told AFP.
“This was the government’s conspiracy, we are not violent people. We have come here for a peaceful protest.”
A meeting of the district administration was underway with security agencies to deliberate on dispersing the crowd. At least 22,000 police personnel and a large contingent of Rangers are already present on D-Chowk, where Qadri’s supporters are staging a sit-in.
Our correspondent, Tariq Chaudhry said that administration has vacant the VIP guest houses in three major areas of the Punjab, Those guest houses will be utilize in case of any detentions.
For Urdu version of the news follow: urdu.aaj.tv