Pak holy man with a funny hat testing his political voice with massive march
[LATIMES] The "Arab Spring" seems a long way from Pakistain's winter of discontent.
Still, when religious scholar Tahirul Qadri talks about his hopes for the massive rally he is planning in Islamabad on Monday, one that he hopes will lure more than a million people into the streets of the quiet capital, the image he uses is that of Cairo's Tahrir Square.
Government leaders have tried to warn the gray-bearded mullah, respected by many for his denunciations of the Taliban and his espousal of tolerance, that a gathering on the scale he is planning would give Islamic fascisti the opportunity to carry out a major terrorist act. Paks haven't forgotten that it was at a large rally in Islamabad's twin city, Rawalpindi, that former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto
... 11th Prime Minister of Pakistain in two non-consecutive terms from 1988 until 1990 and 1993 until 1996. She was the daughter of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, founder of the Pakistain People's Party, who was murdered at the instigation of General Ayub Khan. She was murdered in her turn by person or persons unknown while campaigning in late 2007. Suspects include, to note just a few, Baitullah Mehsud, General Pervez Musharraf, the ISI, al-Qaeda in Pakistain, and her husband, Asif Ali Zardari, who shows remarkably little curiosity about who done her in...
was assassinated by a jacket wallah in 2007.
But Qadri has refused to back down.
Already, police have begun bracing the city for the event. Freight containers and barbed wire are being positioned to block avenues leading to the capital's "red zone," which embraces the parliament, President Asif Ali
Ten Percent Zardari
... husband of the late Benazir Bhutto, who has been singularly lacking in curiosity about who done her in ...
's residence, the Supreme Court and other major government buildings. Anyone trying to enter the capital will have to show identification. As many as 10,000 police and security personnel will be deployed to maintain order.
In what is being billed as the "Long March," Qadri and the rally participants plan to leave the eastern city of Lahore on Sunday and are expected in Islamabad on Monday.
The last thing that Pakistain's government wants is a South Asian version of the events that played out in Cairo's Tahrir Square, epicenter of Egypt's 2011 revolution that ousted President Hosni Mubarak
...The former President-for-Life of Egypt, dumped by popular demand in early 2011...
. Pakistain may be saddled with a host of ills, including suicide kabooms, crippling power outages and a tattered economy, but it differs from Mubarak's Egypt in that it is a democracy with vibrant, free media and a competitive political landscape.
And, in fact, although he mentions Egypt as an inspiration, Qadri's stated goal is far more modest: He is demanding electoral reforms he says will weed out corruption and sweep away the politicians who have allowed terrorism and rampant poverty to flourish.
Posted by: Fred 2013-01-12