Canadian-Pakistani 'million march' cleric could be Pak Army's 'poster boy': Experts
A Canadian-Pakistani religious cleric, who has organized the "million-march" calling for "electoral reform" in Pakistan has raised suspicion among political observers that he is backed by the powerful Pakistani military after he said he wants the Pakistani Army to be involved in the upcoming elections.
Dr. Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri, who was relatively unknown until he returned to Pakistan last month after seven years, runs a network of religious schools and charities around the world from his home in Canada, reports the Christian Science Monitor.
According to analysts, Qadri, who supported the Musharraf regime during its initial years, is the new poster child for the military, which wants to influence the electoral process.
Raza Rumi, director at an Islamabad-based think tank, the Jinnah Institute said Qadri's challenge to the government comes as Pakistan's civilian government is set to see a prime minister make it the full five years for the first time and hold independent elections, which the military may perceive as a threat to its power.
The military has been sidelined from the equation; and if elections happen under this understanding, it will be a major shift in civil military imbalance, Rumi said. The military wants to stop this from happening at any cost, he added.
According to Rumi, Qadri is a moderate cleric and his version of Islam challenges the extremist groups like the Taliban, but this does not mean he should be involved in the governance of the country. Pakistan is already suffering from the mixing of state with religion in the past because of the military, he added.
Qadri's march comes on the heels of four days of protests in Quetta, Balochistan over a major Shiite killing, which led to a state of emergency, late Sunday night.