LAHORE  - ARSHAD BHATTI and JAWAD R AWAN - Stressing upon implementation on Article 38 of the constitution, Pakistan Awami Tehreek chief Dr Tahirul Qadri has put forth a five-point charter of demands that includes agriculture land reforms, employment for all educated and skilful youth, housing plots for homeless, free medical facilities and tax reforms.

Addressing an impressive protest rally against inflation here at The Mall through video link from Canada, Dr Qadri slammed the ruling PML-N for its business policies like ‘black money whitening’ schemes announced by Prime Minster Nawaz Sharif a couple of weeks ago. He said that he wanted a peaceful revolution in the country and wanted to make Pakistan according the vision of Qauid-e-Azam Muhmmad Ali Jinnah.

“We are against extremism and mullahism (theocracy), and seek empowerment of the common man. We are against military dictatorship as it presents no solution to the problems of the country. We want a moderate Pakistan which is possible through spreading awareness. And, the awareness is linked to the right to information as guaranteed by Article 19 of the constitution,” he said.

The Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) chief also pledged to make 35 provinces in the country for devolution of powers after coming into power. He said every division of the country would be made a province so the power and authority could be decentralised. Qadri said he wanted true democracy in which rulers would be held accountable. He said he would make the accountability institutions above the rulers so they could hold them accountable.

Dr Tahirul Qadri said all educated and skilful people should be given employment otherwise the government should give them Rs10,000 unemployment allowance. He said every homeless person should be given five marla plot free of cost and easy instalment loan for house construction. He demanded free medical facility to the masses. He demanded the rulers reform laws governing agricultural land and fix maximum land holding limit to 50 acres per family. He also said the peasants who turn barren tracts into fertile land should be give ownership rights.

About tax reforms, the PAT chief said more tax should be imposed on the privileged classes while the burden on the poor and middle class should be minimised. The poor should also be exempted from all types of taxes, including surcharges, in electricity, gas, water and telephone bills. Dr Qadri asked the ruling elites to bring back their dollars and euros from foreign banks and use this money to give maximum subsidy on essential commodities.

Congratulating the participants of the rally, he said, “Today’s show is a starting point and the second round of such massive rallies will be the final round which will bring the peaceful revolution in the country.” He asked his followers, party leaders and general masses to get ready for the revolution.

“What have the rulers done for elimination of terrorism in past seven months,” Qadri questioned. He said the rulers could not eliminate this menace as even some of their ministers themselves were supporter of the terrorists. He said after their revolution, peace would be established in the country within a year.

“What is the difference between your civilian dictatorship and military dictatorship,” he asked the rulers, adding said that a single family was ruling more than 180 million people. Calling local government elections a drama, he said the rulers were not ready to give power to anyone except their family members and cronies. He said the country was without a foreign minister since last seven months whereas there were no Pakistani ambassadors and high commissioners in many countries.

The PAT chief said the state was being exploited for the benefit of a mere 100 to 200 families. “Exactly, how many families in Pakistan possess Rs50 billion rupees (or more)?,” he asked while referring to PM’s amnesty scheme which promises zero scrutiny for anyone interested in investing in the country. “Wherever politics and trade mingles, ruination of national economy is inevitable,” he averred. He said the rulers wanted to grab ownership of the national institution in the name of privatisation.

Dr Hussain Mohiudin Qadri, the son of Dr Qadri, also addressed the rally and condemned the government for its failure to control price hike, corruption, unemployment and terrorism. He declared that Inqilaab (revolution) has started today with the participation of hundreds of thousands of people in the rally.

By staging a successful protest rally against inflation in Lahore, PAT demonstrated that it still retained viability of the force which was previously shown at December 23, 2012 at Minar-i-Pakistan. In fact the size of the rally even surpassed the tsunami of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), which also held a similar rally last week in the provincial capital.

The rally started from its scheduled point – Nasir Bagh’s adjacent road connecting PMG Chowk – and reached the Town Hall. It culminated at The Mall Road near Alfalah Building with 52-minute video link address of Dr Qadri from Canada. Thousands of enthusiastic supporters of PAT – old and young – took part in the well-organised rally from across the province. Interestingly, most of the participants belonged to southern Punjab.

The charged supporters of Dr Qadri continued chanting slogans against inflation, besides declaring PAT founder as the only saviour of the people. They were carrying placards inscribed with slogans against price-hike and other policies of the government concerning electricity and gas tariffs and energy crisis. Banners and posters carrying slogans against inflation and flexes of Dr Qadri were displayed on the way from Nasir Bagh up to Faisal Chowk.