Dawn News: ‘Superpowers’ support for govt’ made Qadri change his strategy

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LAHORE: Dr Tahirul Qadri claims support from some super powers for the incumbent government made the party change its strategy from protest politics to electoral politics for bringing revolution in the country.

He also says despite reservations on the local body system being introduced by the Shahbaz government in Punjab, his party won’t boycott the ballot.

“My activists did miracles during the 70-day Islamabad sit-in facing all kinds of hardships, particularly during the night between Aug 30 and 31 (when protesters occupied the PTV building). Their resolve shook the very foundations of the Nawaz government but some super powers came to its rescue,” the Pakistan Awami Tehreek chief told Dawn at his residence-cum-office here on Monday.

Without naming the countries, he alleged these powers could not afford to see upright politicians in power as it was easier for them to “manipulate the corrupt, the weak and the inept”.

Contrary to this claim, the PML-N government has been alleging that the sit-ins are part of an international conspiracy to check huge Chinese investment in the country.

Admitting that the sit-in had also begun losing its steam, Dr Qadri said he had two options at hand – either to push his supporters to occupy the parliament, the prime minister house, PTV, etc. to take the protest politics to its logical end or review his strategy and adopt some better course.

The first option would have led to the imposition of martial law, he said, adding it could also have given a chance to the government to label PAT as an extremist and terrorist organization like Al-Qaeda and ISIS.

Sensing the situation, he said, he dropped the idea and went for electoral politics after lengthy intra-party consultations and taking into confidence the ally in protest -- the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf.

Dr Qadri claimed he had apprised Imran Khan of the likely change in strategy the day he (PAT chief) had spoken to the sit-in participants from the PTI container before Eidul Azha.

Explaining why he took time in terminating the “protest phase” of the revolution, he said immediate wrapping up of the protest camp would have given a negative message that the clashes with police had frightened his party activists.

About media reports that he had struck a deal to end the sit-in, the PAT chief said his team was preparing a legal notice to be served on an anchorperson who aired the allegation.

Arguing, he said had he entered into any deal with the government he would not have disagreed, and was continuing to disagree, on the composition of a joint investigation team for probing the Model Town incident.

He said the PAT was still insisting that it would accept such a police officer in the JIT who would not belong to Punjab and Sindh.

He offered a Rs50 million cash prize for the one who would produce duly signed deal agreement between the government and PAT leaders.

Eulogizing the sacrifices offered by PAT workers during the sit-in, he recalled that despite steep popularity graph of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto PPP activists had neither dared to get released their charismatic leader from prison nor launched any forceful drive to rescue him from the death penalty handed down in a murder case.

The jiyalas, he added, had also not initiated any protest movement against the assassination of their chairperson Benazir Bhutto.

Responding to a query, he said the PAT would not boycott the local body polls despite reservations on the new composition of the third tier of government as well as the procedure for its elections.

Replying to a question about his ‘mysterious’ Iran visit about which a former army chief had raised many questions, Dr Qadri categorically denied that he had met supreme Iranian leader Ayatollah Khamenei during the tour.

He, however, said that leaders of many religious parties had visited Iran and met the religious and political leadership there but none raised any finger at them.

He said he visited Iran after almost 15 years where PhDs were being done on him and his research work in various universities.

Dr Qadri, who was set to leave for North America for a two-week organizational visit early Tuesday (today) morning, said he had to change his itinerary from Dubai to Landon to avoid new deal rumours as Shahbaz Sharif was also leaving for London.

He promised to publish a white-paper on the Rs 800 billion circular debt in power sector on his return from abroad on Nov 16.

Meanwhile, he announced changes in his media team and appointed Nurullah Siddiqui as media adviser of PAT.

Source: www.dawn.com