LAHORE - The MQM, one of the coalition partners of the PPP, has started full gear preparations to participate in Dr Tahirul Qadri’s long march on Islamabad on January 14.

The PML-Q, another ally of the PPP, announced not to become part of Qadri’s march, but its members could join Tehreek Minhajul Quran marchers in their personal capacity.

The MQM launched practical measures for preparation in Qadri’s long march after Interior Minister Rehman Malik failed to get support of Altaf Hussain on this count.

The PTI, which welcomed TMQ demands and congratulated Dr Qadri for holding a successful public meeting on December 23 at Minar-e-Pakistan, has decided to stay away from his march.

Sources in the PML-Q told this scribe on Saturday that some of the party leaders, who followed Dr Qadri due to his moderate views on the religion, could join his march in their personal capacity.

However, a senior party leader on the condition of anonymity claimed that those who had decided to participate in Qadri’s long march carried the silent blessings of the top leadership.

The PML-Q, which is looking for strong political partners in the Punjab, keeping in view the PPP’s poor popularity graph, is not ready to lose a single opportunity suiting their political interests, and sending some of its leaders to TMQ march would be a part of their new move on the political chessboard.

MQM central leader Haider Abbas Rizvi told The Nation that the party’s coordination committee had assigned various duties to its members and parliamentarians to build up momentum for participation in Qadri’s march. He said that sorties of party leaders and workers had been sent to their respective towns to gear up preparations for participation in TMQ long march. In the Punjab, two MQM Coordination Committee members, Iftikhar Randhawa and Saif Yar Khan, have started preparations for taking part in TMQ long march.

Iftikhar Randhawa informed that he along with Saif Yar Khan met with TMQ Nazim-e-Ala, Dr Raheeq Abbasi, on Saturday to discuss MQM’s preparations for the march.

Randhawa further said the MQM was setting up camps across the Punjab to educate the common man about the goals of the long march in a bid to ensure their participation.

He said that some MQM Coordination Committee members and parliamentarians would be arriving next week in the provincial capital to boost up party’s preparations for the long march.

Shafqat Mehmood, PTI central spokesman, when contacted, said, “Although we support some of the TMQ demands, we would neither participate in Dr Tahirul Qadri’s long march nor allow any move to delay the next general elections”.

He, however, added that it was the democratic right of a political party or group to launch a march or stage a demonstration to press the government for their rightful demands.

He said that many of the demands of the TMQ chairman were similar to those of the PTI; however “it firmly believes in holding the next polls on-time and will resist any bid regarding the formation of a long-term caretaker set-up”.