Thousands join cleric to call for political reform in Islamabad
Tahir ul Qadri is calling for the political system to be cleaned up before the forthcoming election
Monday 14 January 2013
Thousands of protesters streamed into Islamabad tonight after answering the call of a religious cleric who is demanding political reforms and the end of corruption.
Tahir ul Qadri, who is leading a slow-moving motorcade of demonstrators from the city of Lahore to Islamabad, is calling for the political system to be cleaned up before the forthcoming election due to be held before May. Some 50,000 people are believed to be travelling in Qadri’s convoy and many more are expected to join it in Islamabad. He said the protesters will remain in Islamabad until their demands for political reform are met.
But critics accuse him of trying to derail the fragile democracy that was restored in Pakistan in 2008, after its latest period of military rule. Some observers assert that Qadri is a front for the military to disrupt the democratic process, just as Pakistan prepares for a historic transfer of power from one civilian government to another. The cleric has denied having such links to the military, and has insisted his reforms could be implemented within a matter of days.
Unusually for a country where women rarely join political protests, many women turned out to support the protest in Islamabad tonight. Qadri has tapped into a deep well of discontent with the current government, which is accused of harbouring corrupt ministers while the country endures economic turmoil and a break down in law and order.
“We see our mothers and sisters crying every day. We don’t have food for our children, there is no gas to heat our homes, there is no electricity to sustain us in our homes,” said Farhat Amir, 26, a mother of four girls, who had never previously taken part in a demonstration.
“We have come out for our rights. We are fed up.”
The crowd included a sprinkling of people of Pakistani origin from other countries, where Qadri’s Minhaj ul Quran organisation has a presence, including Britain. Mariam Khaled, a teacher from Barking, east London, had flown in for the event. “This is the first time Pakistan has seen a real uprising. This is not just men here, but old women, young mothers with their toddlers,” said Ms Khaled, 27. “People trust Dr Qadri because he is not standing for election.”
- 1 A politically correct lefty goes to see Top Gear live – you'll probably believe what happened next
- 2 Woman accidentally shoots herself in the head while posing for a selfie
- 3 Isis burns woman alive for refusing to engage in 'extreme' sex act, UN says
- 5 David Starkey 'tells Amal Clooney to shut up and stop over-promoting human rights'
Isis 'jihadi bride' claims forced sex with Yazidi girls is never rape because Koran condones it
Woman accidentally shoots herself in the head while posing for a selfie
Isis burns woman alive for refusing to engage in 'extreme' sex act, UN says
David Starkey 'tells Amal Clooney to shut up and stop over-promoting human rights'
16-year-old girl beaten and burned alive by lynch mob in Rio Bravo, Guatemala
As a white man, I'm surprised more women aren't tweeting the hashtag #KillAllWhiteMen
Scotland may have to leave the EU even if it votes to stay in, David Cameron confirms
The day that Britain resigned as a global power
Almost a third of school pupils believe 'Muslims are taking over our country', study claims
SNP fury as HS2 finds 'no business case' for taking fast train service to Scotland
Gay marriage 'Bert and Ernie' cake bakery found guilty of discrimination in Northern Ireland
£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...
£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...
£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...