LAHORE – The successful negotiations of Dr Tahirul Qadri with a government team on his demands for electoral reforms have given a new lease of life to Pakistan Awami Tehreek that is likely to become a part of the democratic process by contesting the next general elections.
“We are not against democracy and elections. There is no wrong in contesting elections if electoral reforms are introduced and election commission is reconstituted to ensure free and fair polls conducted with an impartial caretaker set-up in place,” said Qazi Faizul Islam, a spokesperson for Dr Qadri's charity Minhajul Quran International.
Dr Qadri, who has been pushing for electoral reforms, will resort to street protests again if the government does not abide by the agreement that eased a political crisis. He said if the declaration was violated, he reserved the right to take any extreme step. Upon his return to Lahore on Friday, Qadri congratulated the entire nation over his successful long march. He reached a deal with the ruling coalition on Thursday that would give his party some say over the formation of a caretaker government ahead of elections this year. His party may also participate in the elections.
However, Qazi Faizul Islam said that a decision regarding participation in elections or staying away from it was yet to be taken. “Such decisions are taken by the central executive committee and federal council of the party. For now, there is no meeting scheduled,” he said while adding the party council could take up the matter shortly. Islam also said their party would ensure implementation of the agreement with full letter and spirit. "If the government tries to deviate, we will force them to follow through the power of the people and media."
Besides giving Qadri a voice in who leads the caretaker administration, the government also agreed to dissolve Parliament before a scheduled date of March 16, although it did not specify a date. It also said elections would be held within 90 days of the dissolution and electoral reforms would continue to be discussed. An announcement of an election date could come during a Parliament session on Monday. But the focus for the moment seems to be on the interim administration that will be formed after the dissolution of parliament and will oversee the elections.