'Triumphant' Pak cleric Qadri refuses to relent

Last Updated: Fri, Jan 18, 2013 14:36 hrs

Islamabad: Pakistan-born Canadian cleric Tahirul Qadri said on Friday he reserves the right to take extreme measures if the agreement signed with the government was not implemented.

Qadri, who shook the Pakistan government with his three-day siege of the capital demanding dissolution of parliament, had left for Lahore Friday morning after signing an agreement with the government on the timing of the general elections.

Claiming his 'long march' as successful and congratulating the entire nation, the Tehrik Minhaj-ul-Quran (TMQ) leader after reaching Lahore told reporters that if the agreement signed with the government was not implemented, they reserved the right to take extreme measures, Geo News reported.

Qadri had been protesting in the capital since Tuesday after having begun his 'long march' from Lahore Sunday.

On Thursday night, while addressing participants of the sit-in in Islamabad, following the signature of Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf on what was termed as the 'Islamabad Long March Declaration', Qadri said: "The march that started Sunday and continued till today had become a great model for the world to see."

The agreement could be reached after a 10-member committee, formed by Ashraf and headed by Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, leader of the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q), held negotiations with Tahirul Qadri to end the sit-in.

According to the declaration, the National Assembly shall be dissolved at any time before March 16, 2013 (due date), so that elections may take place within 90 days. One month will be given for scrutiny of nomination papers for the purpose of pre-clearance of the candidates under article 62 and 63 of the constitution.

It was also agreed upon that the focus will be on the enforcement of electoral reforms prior to the upcoming general elections.

According to sources, Qadri came down from his bulletproof cabin following an agreement with the government late Thursday, climbed into his his sleek black SUV and headed towards Lahore leaving thousands of his followers behind celebrating the "victory".

"I congratulate you. Today is the day of victory for the people of Pakistan. You should go home as peacefully as you came here," Qadri told participants after signing the deal with the prime minister.

Qadri's supporters danced and cheered in a carnival-style atmosphere despite the chilly winter night, before packing their bags, collecting their mattresses and blankets and getting into their vehicles.

Catholic Church seeks Pakistan interior minister's apology

The Catholic Church in Pakistan has sought an apology from Interior Minister Rehman Malik for drawing a parallel between the Pope Benedict XVI and Tahirul Qadri.

Qadri, a politician and Pakistan-born Canadian cleric, delivered fiery speeches while leading tens of thousand of his supporters in Islamabad near Pakistan parliament during his three-day demonstration, seeking parliament dissolution as his chief demand.

In a statement Thursday, Senior Priest of the Catholic Church in Pakistan Fr Emmanuel Yousaf Mani demanded that Rehman Malik should immediately withdraw unnecessary and provocative remarks, Geo News reported.

"There is no comparison or link between the two personalities. While Pope (Benedict XVI) is an undisputed leader of the Catholic Church, the largest faith group in the world.

"The credentials of Dr Qadri are prerogative of Pakistanis and Muslims to ascertain. On the other hand the Pope has neither a political role nor ambitions in the 21st century states," said Fr Emmanuel Yousaf, who also a director of the National Commission for Justice and Peace.

"We as a Christian community of Pakistan feel deeply angered by such statements maligning the office and the position of Papacy. We demand an apology from Rehman Malik, who is otherwise assigned a responsible task and request him to avoid any such remarks in the future."

On Sunday, Malik had said the cleric was not aware of government's affairs and ridiculed Qadri for his getup and said the cleric looked like 'semi- pope'.

Qadri was speaking lies and his pack of lies would be issued in the shape of a whitepaper, Malik said while raising question as to how Qadri managed huge money.

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