Shaykh-ul-Islam Dr Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri has said that he presented a comprehensive package for electoral reforms, elimination of corruption and restoration of democracy as per its spirit in a mammoth public meeting on December 23. He further said that he highlighted the importance of constitutional provisions dealing with qualifications and disqualifications of candidates such as Article 62 and 63, the holding of fair, free and transparent elections as per Article 218 and the Supreme Court Judgment of June 8, 2012 and a 30-day scrutiny period for pre-poll clearance of those aspiring to contest polls.
Dr Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri expressed these views while talking to a reporter of Geo News at the Toronto airport the other day.
Dr Tahir-ul-Qadri said that he raised awareness among the masses regarding the need for fair, free and impartial elections as per requirements of the Constitution, adding that the Islamabad Long March Declaration was a watershed in that regard. He said that the first phase of his struggle was complete, adding that the Election Commission accepted his demands and incorporated them into an amendment bill and sent to the President. He said that the nation was not told about it. He said that the same draft bill had now been dispatched to the Ministry of Law and Justice for further action and its copy was also available with him. He said that all the demands raised by him were part of the draft bill.
Dr Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri said that the government and opposition had ganged up against the proposed electoral reform package of the ECP with the sole aim of protecting their interests. He said that all forces of status quo also got together against his struggle for reforms in the ECP to make the upcoming polls fair, free and transparent. Quoting history, Dr Qadri said that there was sufficient evidence to show that whenever anyone raised his voice against corrupt, exploitative and pro-elite system, all such elements who were beneficiaries of the system would rise above their differences and create unity in their ranks to thwart any opposition to the system.
Dr Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri said that he still entertained reservations and doubts regard the composition of the ECP but he would support all of its actions that led to holding fair and free elections in the country. He said that it was yet to be seen as to how far both the government and opposition would go to accept the electoral reforms packaged in the amendment bill of the Commission, which they, in their view, established to hold fair, free and impartial elections. He further added that the acceptance or rejection of the proposed bill would serve as a touchstone to verify the intentions of the ruling clique whether they wanted the elections to be held in a free and fair manner or resorted to rigging and electoral manipulations to get into power again. He said that if both the government and the opposition did not confer more powers to the ECP through new enactment, tried to keep the scrutiny period to the minimum and locked horns with the ECP, they should not be expected to preside over impartial elections in the country then.
Dr Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri said that whether the elections would be held or not would largely depend upon the conduct of the political parties. He said that if these polls became instrumental in throwing out corrupt, exploitative, tax evading and loan defaulting elements, it would be good omen not only for democracy but also for the very future of the country. He added in the same breath that if the polls were not fair, free and transparent, it would place the country deep into the abyss of disaster. He said that such an outcome would endanger the country’s very survival and hold its future hostage to the terrorists.
Dr Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri said that his duty was to apprise people about the pitfalls lying ahead and the dangers of the status quo. He said that he told the people that their destiny would not change unless they endeavored to change it themselves. He said that he would continue to play his role to raise the people’s awareness.
In reply to a question, Dr Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri said that it was unfortunate that all stakeholders were part of the same system. He said that he was saddened by the remarks of the apex court on dual nationality during hearing of his case. He said that Pakistan’s Constitution allowed dual nationality. He further said that the clause 14 of Citizenship Act was clear on this. He said that the country had dual nationality agreements with 19 countries including Canada with which Pakistan had an agreement since 1973. He said that it was unfortunate that even law and Constitution was not being upheld in the courts and in that case the citizens had no other forum to go to for redressal of their grievances. He said that it was regrettable that the loyalty of dual nationality holders was rendered dubious. He said that such remarks were not good omen for the country.