Parties ranged against Qadri

Nawaz Sharif, Imran Khan cooperate with govt.

January 17, 2013 03:52 am | Updated November 16, 2021 11:45 pm IST - ISLAMABAD:

Supporters of Pakistani Sunni Muslim cleric Tahir-ul-Qadri raise their hands to show their support with Qadri during an anti-government rally in Islamabad, Pakistan, Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013. Pakistan's leaders received a powerful one-two punch Tuesday as the Supreme Court ordered the arrest of the prime minister in a corruption case and the firebrand cleric led thousands of protesters in another day of anti-government demonstrations in the capital.  (AP Photo/Anjum Naveed)

Supporters of Pakistani Sunni Muslim cleric Tahir-ul-Qadri raise their hands to show their support with Qadri during an anti-government rally in Islamabad, Pakistan, Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013. Pakistan's leaders received a powerful one-two punch Tuesday as the Supreme Court ordered the arrest of the prime minister in a corruption case and the firebrand cleric led thousands of protesters in another day of anti-government demonstrations in the capital. (AP Photo/Anjum Naveed)

Pakistan’s political parties closed ranks on Wednesday in the face of what they saw as an effort by anti-democratic forces to derail democracy through cleric-politician Tahir-ul Qadri. They rejected his demand for reconstitution of the Election Commission and said all political parties — inside and outside Parliament — would be consulted in the formation of the caretaker set-up ahead of the next elections.

Even cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) — which had been sending out confused signals over Dr. Qadri’s demands — refused to accept Qadri’s open invitation to join those picketing Parliament House demanding a change in the system.

What is being billed as the “counter-offensive” of political parties began in the evening after Dr. Qadri dictated the narrative for the past few days. The first salvo was fired by federal Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira who ridiculed Dr. Qadri and rejected his demand for involving the judiciary and military in deciding the caretaker government.

This was followed by a press conference in Lahore by former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif who had convened a meeting of all opposition parties. In one voice, they rejected Dr. Qadri’s demands and said the Constitution would be upheld at all costs. Within minutes, the PTI threw in its lot with the other political parties.

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