LAHORE - While his efforts to bring about a revolution for the establishment of what he called an egalitarian society in Pakistan is less likely to bear fruit any time soon, the demands that Pakistan Awami Tehrik Chairman Dr Tahirul Qadri made in his address to the participants of a well-attended rally in the provincial metropolis on Sunday will certainly touch many a heart.

The rulers who are well-entrenched and are also in control of state resources cannot be easily dislodged. But if the PAT holds a series of rallies against inflation, unemployment and corruption according to its plans, the government may be forced to take such steps as could lessen the economic hardships of the common man.

Dr Qadri had launched the programme for a change on December 23 last year by holding a big public meeting at the Minar-i-Pakistan. Then, on January 13 this year he led thousands of his supporters and followers to Islamabad, where the protesters stayed encamped on the Islamabad roads for four days despite a bone-chilling cold.

The PAT chief wanted the May 11 general elections scrapped as, according to him, the Election Commission of Pakistan was a partisan body, whose members were safeguarding the interests of the parties they had been nominated by.

He took the matter to the Supreme Court, where a bench headed by then Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry dismissed his plea – not on merit but a technical ground. The bench said that since Dr Qadri was a dual national, he had no locus standi to approach the apex court.

The dismissal of the plea changed the political atmosphere in the country. Having received a serious setback, the PAT decided to boycott the May 11 elections, arguing that participation therein would be an exercise in futility.

The PAT’s boycott decision provided the PML-N and the PPP with an opportunity to heave a sigh of relief. The Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaaf of Imran Khan, which was in constant contact with the PAT at the time, decided to contest the general elections, regardless of the PAT’s stand.

Now, eight months after the elections, people have seen the performance of the PML-N government – as also the provincial governments. Noticing that problems have multiplied over the past months, Dr Qadri has decided to mobilise the masses for another attempt for a ’revolution’ in the country. Hence the rally. (The PAT is not taking part in the upcoming local elections because it doesn’t want to be part of a ‘corrupt’ system).

Imran Khan had led a rally against inflation only a week ago.

In his address, Dr Qadri alleged the rulers have made politics a tool to promote their business interests. The rulers, he said, were keeping their wealth abroad and not designating ambassadors to important countries as ‘favourites and trustworthy’ people capable of protecting their interests in the host countries were not available.

Both these allegations carry weight. Despite severe criticism the rulers are not pushed about bringing their assets abroad back to Pakistan. Similarly, Pakistan doesn’t have ambassadors in a number of countries, because of which bilateral ties may be negatively affected.

Only God knows what is in the mind of the rulers that they are not appointing heads of dozens of important state-owned institutions. Ironically, they removed the Nadra chairman, the Pemra chairman and the Accountant General, all of whom were restored by courts. Because of such whimsical decisions, the government had to pay huge fees to lawyers to (abortively) defend them in courts.

Dr Qadri will win many a heart by his demand that the government should not tax the poor and provide essential items to people at subsidised rates. His suggestion that landholding limit for a family should be set at 50 acres and tenants making barren lands cultivable should be given ownership rights will also win him support from the likely beneficiaries.

The PAT chief represented the views of countless shelterless and the jobless when he demanded houses and subsistence allowance for them.

The changing situation may bring the PAT and the PTI closer once again. And in case they join hands, the process of change could be expedited.