Pakistanis march on Islamabad against government corruption, 2012-2013

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Timing
Time Period:  
23 December
2012
to
17 January
2013
Location and Goals
Country: 
Pakistan
Location City/State/Province: 
Islamabad
Goals: 
Peaceful democratic revolution, electoral reforms, end to government corruption, and an interim government before general elections
 

Tahir-ul Qadri is a Pakistani law professor, politician, and Sufi scholar. After serving as an elected Member of the National Assembly of Pakistan, Qadri resigned in 2004, claiming disappointment and frustration with regard to corruption and lack of accountability in President Pervez Musharraf's government. In the next year, Qadri engaged in a self-imposed exile to Toronto, Canada, where he continued to practice as an Islamic scholar.

After seven years, in December 2012, Tahir-ul Qadri returned to Pakistan from Canada with the goal of galvanizing the nation against the corruption and lack of transparency in government and politics before the forthcoming general elections of 2013. On 23 December 2012, Qadri held a rally at the Minar-e-Pakistan monument in Lahore to draw support for his cause. Through a two-hour address, Qadri condemned the government led by the People's Party of Pakistan and its president, Asif Ali Zardari. Qadri laid out his goals for a democratic revolution, an end to corruption through electoral reforms, and the establishment of an interim government until new elections took place. In order to pressure the government into meeting these goals, Qadri called for citizens to join him in a million-person march to the capital city of Islamabad, which became known as the Long March. The only political party providing official support to Qadri apart from his own Pakistan Awami Tehreek was Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM). Before the march began, MQM withdrew its support.

On 14 January 2013, Qadri, in a bullet-proof vehicle, led 10,000 supporters on the march, beginning a four-day sit-in, rallying on Jinnah Avenue, a major street in Islamabad. Increasing numbers of demonstrators joined the march and sit-in near the Parliament building, and the group eventually reached over 50,000. Due to continued worry about the possibility of eruption of violence within the crowd and of militant attacks, the government dispatched over 10,000 security personnel and shut down schools and stores in the area. There was also concern regarding the health of demonstrators due to poor weather conditions. Approximately 170 protestors fell sick to the point of hospitalization, bringing criticism to Qadri and the march.

In Islamabad, Qadri demanded for Zardari's government to step down immediately, threatening that the sit-in would remain until this demand was met. However, on 17 January 2013, Qadri met with government officials and ended the protest with an agreement over the Long March Declaration. Following this, Qadri addressed the protesters, claiming that they had been successful in their demonstration. The Long March Declaration, however, did not significantly address the demands put forth. The Declaration allowed Qadri a consultative say in the appointment of an interim prime minister during the general elections, but there were no other changes from electoral plans that the government already had in place. Furthermore, the Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf signed the Declaration two days after the Supreme Court ordered his arrest on corruption charges.

Research Notes
Sources: 
"'Long march' show not in millions but not a flop." The News. 16 January 2013. http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-6-154598-Long-march-show-not-in-millions-but-not-a-flop

"Qadri's long march took away capital's charm." Daily Times. 18 January 2013. http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2013%5C01%5C18%5Cstory_18-1-2013_pg11_7

"CM questions objectives achieved through long march." The News. 19 January 2013. http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-5-155112-CM-questions-objectives-achieved-through-long-march

"Qadri sends 41-page resignation to speaker." Daily Times. 30 November 2004. http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=story_30-11-2004_pg7_15

"Dr. Tahir-ul-Qadri's full speech at Minar-e-Pakistan Lahore 23rd December 2012." Shaykh-ul-Islam: Dr. Muhammad Tahir Ul Qadri. 24 December 2012. http://www.drtahirulqadri.com/main/dr-tahir-ul-qadris-full-speech-at-minar-e-pakistan-lahore-23rd-december-2012/

Boone, Jon. "Pakistan cleric protest: dramatic sit-in ends with a whimper and a deal." The Guardian. 17 January 2013. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jan/17/pakistan-cleric-protest-ends-deal?INTCMP=SRCH

Name of researcher, and date dd/mm/yyyy: 
Fatimah Hameed, 09/05/2013