It was surprising to see an enthusiastic audience curiously turning up to hear about the recently much talked about Qadri phenomenon which disappeared as quickly as it appeared on television channels and newspapers across Pakistan, India and elsewhere. The talk on the “Qadri Phenomenon: Making Sense of Pakistani Politics” by Dr. Yaqoob Khan Bangash was organized under the Pakistan Studies Programme by MMAJ Academy of International Studies on Thursday 31 January.
Dr. Bangash is chairperson and Assistant Professor in the Department of History at the prestigious Forman Christian College (Chartered University), Lahore, Pakistan. He holds a DPhil from Oxford University. He is a regular writer in some of the leading English dailies of Pakistan like the Express Tribune.
In his talk, Dr. Bangash minced no words about the distrust of democracy and the political process which had led to sort of “destabilizing Pakistan.
Speaking about the strength of the so-called Qadri phenomenon, Bangash observed that people in Pakistan fell for holy figures, but for a very short time, and said that Tahir-ul-Qadri was uncomfortable with democracy and his only contribution in the uncertain situations of Pakistani politics was to raise some issues which keep surfacing from time to time with government failing to address them. He described the failure of the government to deliver services as a major problem and said that the government had a very limited reach in the delivery of services in Pakistan.
Professor Bangash felt that different systems were in operation in India and Pakistan. In Pakistan there is no distinction between international and external issues and the way the country proceeds is reflective of a regional politics of different powers. The internal issues in Pakistan are always linked to external issues. He further said that how Pakistan had actually developed had a lot to do with how politics had developed there. The way the Pakistani people think about government and politics is different from how people think about them in India, he said.
The turning up of people in large numbers to the call of Qadri was a “result of frustration and the anxiety of what is going to be next”, Bangash said. Who funded Qadri and is behind him is a big question, he said. Qadri talked about Article 62 and 63 of Pakistani Constitution and his contribution to democracy is similar to Ziaul Haque’s who also showed distrust of democracy. While referring to Sections C to G of Article 62 what Qadri really talked about is the process of Islamization like the qualification of a Member of Parliament to be free from sin that would lead to non-elective form of government.
Qadri came from nowhere, highlighted certain issues and people thought he was going to solve them. But soon people realized that it’s not easy to solve them, said Bangash adding that the result was a vindication of the democratic process. He termed the “jalsas” of cricketer-turned politician Imran Khan as political rallies whereas those of Qadri’s as pressure practices. What I realize from the Qadri march is that anyone can make sense of Pakistani politics, he remarked.
The distinguished scholar took a dig at those who think that India and Pakistan had much in similar than what they differed in. Geography will be the only thing after two generations have passed because of the different ways in which the two countries have developed, said he adding that Pakistan had enough to identify itself with rather than just not being with India.
The talk was coordinated by Dr. Ajay Darshan Behera. Prof, Shri Prakash, Dr. Mathew Joseph C, Sanjoy Hazarika, Prof. Rana Banerji, Dr. Aliva Mishra, other teachers and students besides some students from Pakistan attended the talk and asked questions which were addressed by the speaker.