Tahirul Qadri is back. This time he considers the Sharifs as the biggest threat and wants to save Pakistan and its democracy from the PML-N.
True, it was a remarkable achievement for him to get the opposition together on the same day, if not on the same platform. Though a few political parties were sharing the stage, the PPP and the PTI are the most significant. And the leaders of both the parties – Zardari and Imran Khan had refused to share the platform. Both had to be accommodated on the same stage, but in two different sessions.
The opposition parties have come together on the same stage, but remain divided. Though there were few parties, besides the PTI and PPP – the PML-Q is the only other party with any political significance. They are not united by a common political goal, but an opportunist agenda to dislodge the PML-N. Despite the judiciary ousting Nawaz Sharif and a few political machinations in Sindh and Balochistan, and the violent protests by radical groups in Islamabad-Rawalpindi, the PML-N remains united.
Tahirul Qadri has a cause. He wants justice for the killings of his party workers in 2014 in Model Town, which is a fair expectation. But, he is using this to further a broader political agenda against the Sharifs, and want the other political parties to come together. The PPP, PTI and other parties that have converged in Lahore have different agenda, though they pay lip service to the Model Town killings. If Tahirul Qadri sees assembling Imran and Zardari as an opportunity, the latter see this as another opportunity to bring down the PML-N.
Even if the PML-N governments in Punjab and Islamabad manage to save the provincial and national assemblies, the opposition parties expect that the process will weaken the PML-N further before the general elections scheduled during 2018.
The Mall Road protest is political opportunism for the opposition parties. Tahirul Qadri is providing a platform for them; else, given the differences between Imran and Zardari, no one else can bring them together. Qadri is truly a political maverick.
Two questions are significant. What is Qadri’s ultimate agenda? This will remain unknown, given the nature of his “visiting” politics. Whether he is doing it on his own or is a part of a broader political re-engineering led by the Deep State – it will not be easy to decipher the Qadri code. Will he be able to bring the opposition parties together into a political alliance? Unlikely. The fact that Zardari and Imran Khan attended the rally separately will highlight the deep differences between the two opposition parties.