Tahir ul Qadri is a well-financed, extremely organized political reformer in Pakistan preaching the gospel of anticorruption and the need for Pakistan to purge its political system of corrupt politicians.
He has reportedly hired thousands of buses to bring 4 million protestors to the capital of Islamabad for a planned march on January 14. These demands for sweeping reform are being made ahead of Pakistan’s first democratic transition between governments.
What worries many, however, is that Tahir ul Qadri was unknown in politics prior to his calls for reform, prompting speculation that he may be tacitly backed by the Pakistani military and the West.
Qadri is insistent that, prior to elections taking place, candidates need to be vetted to make sure that they have paid their debts and taxes. It was recently revealed that 80% of Pakistani parliamentarians do not pay taxes and many use their influence to get bad debts written off.
In Pakistan’s system of electoral politics an interim government must be set up between elected governments to oversee the elections. Pakistan observers worry that Qadri is trying to influence the composition of this caretaker government. By making his demands impossible to meet before the elections, Qadri can generate a pretext for the caretaker government to cancel the scheduled elections.