Qadri Leaves Pakistan, Opposition Alleges Deal With Govt

M Zulqernain/Lahore
Qadri Leaves Pakistan, Opposition Alleges Deal With Govt

After abruptly ending his over two-month long anti-government protest in the Pakistani capital, fiery cleric Tahir-ul-Qadri has left the country, leading to speculation that he has struck a deal with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

Ahead of his "foreign trip", the Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) chief said the aim of his visit to different countries is to organise his party and generate funds for it.

The Canada-based cleric said the PAT's sit-in "created political awareness" among the workers and common men, and "change would come in the national politics after his travelling", the Geo News reported.

The cleric, who left the country yesterday, said he would return Pakistan on November 17.

Opposition Pakistan People's Party, however, alleged that Qadri called off his sit-in and left the country after striking a deal with the Sharif brothers.

"Qadri has received Rs 65 crore from the PML-N government to end the sit-in. The government will also close some 40 or so cases including the ones having treason and murder charges against him under the deal," PPP senior leader Raja Riaz claimed. 

Riaz alleged that some friends of Sharifs and Qadri brokered the deal between them.

"Qadri wanted honourable exit after failing to topple the government along with Imran Khan and the Sharifs provided a perfect platform to fly back to Canada," he told PTI.

The cleric, however, denied any deal with the government.

"If someone presents proof of my deal with the Sharifs, I will give him Rs 5 crore," he said.

Asked about abruptly winding up of his sit-in, Qadri said that support from "some super powers" for the PML-N government made him change his strategy from "protest politics to electoral politics" for bringing revolution in the country.

"My activists did miracles during the 70-day Islamabad sit-in by facing all kinds of hardships, particularly during the night between August 30 and 31 when protesters occupied the PTV building. Their resolve shook the very foundations of the Nawaz government but some super powers came to its rescue," he said.

Qadri said he had two options -– either to push his supporters to occupy the Parliament to take the protest politics to its logical end or review his strategy and adopt some better course.

"The first option would have led to the imposition of martial law or it could also have given a chance to the government to label PAT as an extremist and terrorist organisation like Al-Qaeda and ISIS. However, I decided to go for electoral politics and ended the sit-in," he said.

Taking a sigh of relief after Qadri ended his sit-in, ruling PML-N declared that "threat to democracy has been over".

Pakistan Tahreek-i-Insaf chairman Imran Khan had expressed his disappointment over Qadri's decision to end the anti-government stir.

Khan and the cleric had been protesting since August, demanding Sharif's resignation on the grounds that last year's general elections were rigged.

While Qadri called off his protest, Khan is still continuing his demonstrations, demanding the Premier's resignation and fresh elections.

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