The Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) and Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) on Saturday agreed on a 10-point reform agenda aimed at launching a movement to bring electoral reforms and establish a welfare system in the country.
The announcement was made at a news conference in London, following a meeting between PML-Q President Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain and PAT chief Dr Tahirul Qadri. The top leadership of the two parties was in London to discuss the formation of an alliance against the government.
Earlier reports had suggested that the PAT and PML-Q leaders would be joined by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan, who also happens to be in the UK. The reports were later rejected by the PTI leaders.
Speaking at the news conference, Qadri announced that he would return to Pakistan in June – earlier than his previously planned homecoming in July – to launch a movement against the government geared towards reforming the electoral and governance systems in the country.
“We will launch a movement for electoral reforms and for the rights of the poor, who have been deprived for more than six decades,” he told reporters. “We also plan to bring about a ‘mass revolution’ in the country to get rid of the incumbent government and election systems.”
While signing the 10-point agenda, the two parties decided to contact ‘likeminded’ political and religious parties – naming the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) and PTI in particular – to join their ‘mass revolution’.
Qadri claimed that the present government had failed to deliver and said that the rights of the poor in Pakistan were being usurped. “This system is not for the poor, but for protecting the interests of rulers and their cronies,” he said.
He added that the administrative and financial systems of the country had miserably failed to provide relief to the masses and needed to be overhauled. “The establishment of a new welfare system has become inevitable,” the PAT chief said.
Revealing PAT and PML-Q’s plans, Qadri said they planned to compile data on those who earned less than Rs15,000 in order to provide them free electricity, gas and housing. State land will be distributed among homeless people and every citizen would be provided a home as well as employment, he said. In addition to that, a state insurance programme would be introduced for the low-income segment, he added.
Qadri said the two parties also agreed to transfer powers to the grassroots level in a bid to empower the common man. The PAT and PML-Q have agreed to create sectarian harmony in the country as well, he added.
Senior PML-Q leader Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi, who was also present at the news conference, said that steps would be taken to introduce a ‘pro-poor system’ in the country. “Poor people are in a miserable condition. A comprehensive system is needed to address their issues,” he said, vowing to reform the police and patwari systems.
The former Punjab chief minister criticised incumbent Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif for “ruining the governance structure in Punjab during his six years in power”.
Federal Information Minister Pervaiz Rashid termed the two parties’ leaders ‘political orphans and jobless’. “One leader cannot come to Parliament through the democratic system while the other can’t join the opposition,” he said. The minister added that the PAT and PML-Q were trying to gather everyone who was ‘rejected’ in the election.
The statement was echoed by senior PML-N leader and Minister for Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit-Baltistan Chaudhry Barjis Tahir. He said the PML-Q was rejected in the elections while the PAT ran away from the polls. Despite this, the two parties are trying to derail democracy, he added.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 1st, 2014.