Is Our Pied Piper from Lahore?

Is Our Pied Piper from Lahore?

The Pied Piper of Hamelin may have led the children to a place unknown never to come back.  Our own only led them to Islamabad and they all came back.  And of course ours was more considerate and took both children and their elders. The Hamelin guy wore tights and bright, multi-colored clothes. Lahore’s sported a flowing, embellished robe and an equally enchanting cap. While the former walked, the latter was driven in a bullet proof SUV.


Times have indeed changed. Tahir ul Qadri (TuQ) brought to life a legend from the Middle Ages.  The Pied Piper with a beard spawned a spectacle and we all swayed to his revolutionary tune.  So what was it anyway? A farce enacted by a delusional academic or a meticulously choreographed ballet by the powers that be. A threat to the flailing Democracy or a messiah responding to the ground swell of discontent?


Let’s agree on few things. TuQ did manage to gather quite a crowd and this was no rent a crowd thing. There were women, girls and kids of all ages imbued with the belief that they were marching for a great cause. By all accounts there were no less than 50,000 who marched to his tune braving the biting cold for three days and three nights. Give the credit where it is due.


guy strikes like a bolt from the blue, manages to rally people, media around to drink from his revolution potion, holds the political ilk breathless and finally calls off the March singing victory. If it was an election stunt, then TuQ or his handlers masterminded it beautifully. If it was simply a call to turn the tables on the status quo, then many a heart did skip the beat buying happily the conviction and fervor of his rants.


That he made many among us realize the futility of an electoral system that unfailingly fails to weed the rotten out, must be accepted albeit grudgingly. The naysayers bombard with examples of Western democracies as fruits of unimpeded political process. Democracy blossomed in the West over centuries and was hardly a consequence of mere recurrence of elections.


Several other variables like a robust, across the board accountability system and a functioning state discharging its fundamental duties like ensuring law and order, education and justice for all, health services went a long way in shaping democracy. Justice freed people from the compulsion of relying on clan, bribe, and connections to seek the rightful.


Education meant an improved awareness of one’s rights and a better understanding of who to vote for and why.  The academic discourse on democracy is unequivocal in saying that good governance is a great enabler and affords people an opportunity to positively consider participation and rational self-expression.


Of the total 342 seats in the National Assembly, almost 200 are rural in character. Results of these seats bear heavily on the destiny of Pakistan. And rural politics, as Dr. Farrukh Naseem puts it, “is all about dharra-bandi, langaar bazi and thana-katcherry”, a fact borne out of the results of eight elections held so far. Elections, therefore, held today or tomorrow, without electoral reforms are likely to throw up mostly the same faces until and unless some variables are tinkered with.


In the long term, dispensation of justice and education for all especially in the rural areas. In the short term, reforms aimed at making elections a more representative exercise by liberating them from the clutches of the moneyed and corrupt.


Most dismiss the declaration signed by a TuQ and PM as a piece of paper with no legal significance. Is that really so? That piece of paper may not hold to the fire of court scrutiny but there are parts of it which are loaded with enough TNT to trigger a blast of unimaginable proportions. Articles 62 and 63 defining the character of an electoral candidate seem nebulous but are already a part of the written constitution. That they have never been enforced is another matter.


Imagine a petition by TuQ based on that worthless signed declaration invoking articles 62 and 63 and unleashing massive public/media pressure on the Supreme Court for enforcement. The Court may not mind enforcing clauses of a constitution framed by the very legislature, and initiating the mother of all accountability campaigns.

Hasnain Iqbal

The blogger contributes for The News/Geo blogs


    “So what was it anyway? A farce enacted by a delusional academic or a
    meticulously choreographed ballet by the powers that be. A threat to the
    flailing Democracy or a messiah responding to the ground swell of

    This should have been your concluding paragraph – not the middle.

  • S Nasrullah

    @ Hasnain Iqbal: Kudos to you for marshaling your facts intelligently. Everyone becomes wise after the incident. That the Long March was fraught with exponential dangers to lives and properties was an incontrovertible fact. I do not profess to be mind reader of people, but my educated guess is that TuQ nursed the idea that in the heat of the Long March, many or some Opposition Parties would jump his bandwagon to grapple the corrupt government of PPP and its Coalition to the ground – a likelihood that no observant analyst would gainsay. If the government of AAZ and his corrupt to the core Allies were to be ousted by the Military – and this is what the PPP hierarchy had been hoping – they would have attained the martyrdom that would have salvaged their wrecked reputation. But bringing down an administration by the preponderance of Public protest (the Mid-East Summer had all the similar trappings) would have provided a moral indictment to send those cranks and criminals to the gallows, they deserved.

  • Jhony

    A big drama, nothing else, qadri made his political position “mission accomplished” thats it, he came to make the situation more complex, not a single thing he did through long march, no assembly is dissolved, no election commission is dissolved, he did the agreement with same “yazeeds as per qadri saying” who were imitating him during long march, Salute to innocent people & children who stand there in minus temperature in a hope that long march will result up in reduction of prices of basic necessaties or some revolution but unfortunately qardi protected himself in a bomb proof container and innocent people were shivering on the metal road. Is this called a leader? qadri a person who can deceive people in religion by celebrating christmass, has no credibility , he copied the strategy of PTI to become popular ” Remove Corruption” ” Tax Collection” & “Return Overseas Black Money” these strategies was already declared by Imran Khan from last 18 years, Imran Khan is a real leader who whenever did “Dharna” stood be there along with people in same weather conditions without any bullet proof glass, whether its a Sonami of Karachi or Lahore, he was facing millions of people by raising his hands without any bullet proof glass, rally of Waziristan (death region) is another example of Imran Khan dare moves for this nation.

  • M. Iftikhar

    No doubt this was an attempt on the part of TuQ to bring some betterment in the present electorate system. This was not a revolution but a step towards that direction. Initially the acceptance could not be registered by him publically except in his followers. Generally the trend in Pakistan is skepticsm and it prevails through a general mindset across the board. In my view this was his first move to purge the system from various shortcomings but he has also tried to remain himself within the possible ambit of the law and constitution. But the mafia is massively strong and it would never allow him to go straight to his target.
    Imran Khan who had become a symbol of change could not participate on his call but it was serious blow and dent in his credentials and lot of people thought that his approach to bring a change through this system of election cannot be successful.
    Many pundits predict that there would be hung parliament and the next government most pessimistically would not be able to deliver. That would be the time that TuQ would be given a soft hearing till that time TuQ should continue to strive for his cause of change incessentally if he is sincere and determined to bring the change.

  • azeem abbas

    Excellent Hasnain! True and 100% correct. It was just a Topi Drama. He just served his personal interest and to gain some cheap popularity. A big looser as usual. Shame on him!

  • Aleem Baig

    Dr. Qadri, like him or hate him.. Exposed the elephant in the room that none wish to talk of… That this whole system is doctored for the benefit of the ruling elite. That until and unless checks are put in place to ensure a fair election in which known criminals are not allowed to run, the elections will be like shooting in our heads…once again..

    The writing is very clear on the wall, any elections held without weeding out the corrupt..are going to bring in a corrupt and dysfunctional parliament that will make us wish for the Gillani era…

    Credit goes to the author for calling a spade a spade.. There were both good and bad sides to this episode…

    I don’t care whether its Imran Khan, Dr. Qadri, or whoever, someone needs to stand matter what the mainstream media says and try to setup checks and balances in this rotten system that will ensure a better Pakistan.

  • S Nasrullah

    TuQ may not fit any of the prescribed heroics that Mr NASAH corrected the Blog writer to re-paragraph. An ardent Imran Khan supporter may join the chorus of others labeling the gigantic effort of TuQ staging a mammoth Long March as “Topi Drama” a “Noora Kushti” or a mere “Drama” -yet are their own Leaders capable of pulling through such magnificent and disciplined class of Dharna without destruction of public property or loss of life? I am a supporter of IK and I was glad when IK was grilled before many Anchors of the TV Political projections where IK was made to answer for his inaction and his reluctance to join the Long March? Khan was seen to play defensive and the various reasons he gave did not measure up to the strong and the honest Leader that he is. He resented TuQ embracing the disgraced members of the Junta against whom he had enacted such splendid show and considered revolting for his supporters if he were to do the same what TuQ did. Was it a mean achievement that the regime, known for its falsifications and flurry of promises and posturing, resorted to erecting barriers of legal, political, moral and farcical facades to take wind out of TuQ sails, and fueled confrontation tactics, ultimately succumbed and submitted and made a bee line to his Container to sign on the dotted lines of Long March Declaration. Even to this day, they are all closeted in the corridors of power to thrash out pragmatic meanings and muscle to the Long March Declaration. Was it not the ideal time to grab the Opportunity of ground swell of discontent to throw over a government that miserably failed to deliver any thing promised by those cranks and their humiliation would have spurred their departure from the political scene for long time if not sealed their fate forever?

  • Muhammad Atif Agha

    What i think, PPP tried to create a dummy Imran with the personality of “Tahir ul Qadri” who could speak the same things which Imran does and who could talk like that, but from inside he is the same which a typical corrupt politician is. Supporters of Imran Khan were about to deceive that Imran Khan right step saved them from being destroyed, no doubt We have more respect for our Quaid Imran Khan after this drama and fake Qadri.

  • M.Saeed

    But, Qadri-crowd almost entirely comprised well entrenched party-faithful.

    Being resident of Islamabad and living at a stone-throw distance from the D-Chowk, I was able to do some simple survey and calculations. I had counted about 750 inter-city transport buses of 11-23 and 45-seats, all parked during the entire Long-March period, on and along the green belts and road of Islamabad’s Blue Area. They all were displaying Punjab number plates, mostly from rural areas.
    Taking an average of the above seating capacities, they must have transported about 19,500 to 20,000 people. Adding to that some casual and periodic participants from the twin cities, the whole crowd was not more than of 30,000 people.
    To estimate costs, even if the “imported crowd” was paid Rs.10,000 per head for participation, that amounts to just Rs.20 crores! Not a big deal, if the whole project had a financial provision of Rs.600 crores!

    Let us examine the material outcome of the Long March. Perhaps, the only appreciable plus would be the practical and essential application of Articles 62 and 63 of the Constitution as a basic screening-sieve for removing the unwanted sludge from the electoral candidates of our forthcoming elections. If this effort succeeds, the whole campaign could become the turning-point in sanitizing our polity. Otherwise, it would prove being another weapon in the covert plan to hasten our disaster.

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