The Canada-returned fiery speaking scholar, Dr. Tahirul Qadri, has been creating ripples in Pakistan’s political scene for the last few weeks. A Canadian national since 2005, Qadri returned to Pakistan flexing political muscles against the government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, warning that the “revolution” he has been calling for has now become the writing on the wall and will overthrow the entire corrupt system which allows only the capitalists and corrupt to get elected disallowing the same to the poor.
Facing alleged money laundering charges back in Canada, Qadri landed in Pakistan six weeks ago in dramatic style after authorities disallowed his plane to land in the capital city of Islamabad where he was scheduled to address a crowd of workers fueled against the Sharif Government in the wake of police shooting down 12 colleagues in Lahore. Instead, authorities diverted his plane to Lahore where he was unprepared for a public gathering. Infuriated at the government, Qadri in his media talks has been issuing stern warnings to bureaucrats and police personnel against obeying the orders of rulers whose days were allegedly numbered. Qadri has always been a controversial figure ever since he rose to “fame” over three decades back, courtesy of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s father, Mian Muhammad Sharif who was chairman of a group of companies including iron and steel foundries. Sharif’s father appointed Qadri as prayer leader of the mosque affiliated with their foundries and hospital complex. After Nawaz Sharif was made provincial minister, Mian Sharif appointed Qadri to host a religious show on state television in place of noted Quran scholar Dr. Israr Ahmad whom the then president General Ziaul Haq was unhappy with for some reasons.
Born on February 19, 1951 in Jhang, some 200 kilometers east of Lahore, Qadri was the son of a poor father working as paramedic. After studying law and pursuing a masters in Islamic Studies, Qadri briefly taught at Oriental College and then at University of the Punjab till he succeeded in getting acquainted with Mian Sharif. Qadri used Mian Sharif’s patronage to found in 1981 the Tehrik Minhajul Quran for the promotion of Islamic education and contemporary education through opening schools and colleges. He founded the system of secular schools with a cosmetic touch of Islamic education across the country. On 25 May 1989, Qadri set up a political party, the Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) for stated aims of promoting democracy, economic stability, human rights, justice, and women’s roles and to remove corruption.
Qadri is bracing for his last chance to stay on course of being a respected religious and political leader. He is being dubbed as a failed politician after several workers died trying to launch the much-awaited revolution he has been calling for over two decades. It is now or never for him. The hype he has created appears to be working against him. Either he will have to bring the revolution or he will become history.