Alwaght- A senior Pakistani opposition official has urged the international community to solve the Kashmiri conflict. In an exclusive interview with Alwaght, Umar Riaz Abbasi, the spokesperson of Dr. Tahirul Qadiri, the leader of Pakistan Awami TehreeK ( PAT), has blasted Indian forces brutality against unarmed Kashmiris.
Below are excerpts of the interview.
Q. What are your objectives in opposing the government of Prime Minister Nawaz Shariff
A. In Pakistan at the current scenario, Dr Qadiri launched this movement against the government based on the fact that there should be a transparent electoral system and reforms should be implemented before the next elections, this movement is known as the Tehreek-e-Ehtesab (Accountability Movement).
Then there was the tragedy of the Modern Town where security forces attacked Minhaj ul Quran institute and killed 14 people including two women.
Therefore, the second phase of our movement has been Tehreek-e-Qisas (revenge movement) which aims to take revenge on those state officiasl responsible for the killings This movement is in a decisive phase, Dr. Qadiri is engaging the people through the media, processions, courts and legal proceedings.
We think that the Pakistani masses have attained the level of consciousness where they want electoral reforms and justice on Modern Town tragedy.
Q. Regarding the Modern Town tragedy, you are presenting cases against the Pakistani government in the International Criminal Court and High Court in England. Do you think you will get justice in these courts?
A. No, I don’t think so, but Dr Qadiri resorted to these courts and especially the ICC in order to expose the brutality and criminal activities of the current Pakistani government. This is our basic human right.
Q. After his long stay in exile, some have accused Dr Qadiri of being supported by Western government and some Pakistani politicians, have claimed that he is the Fethullah “Gulen” of Pakistan, what is your opinion about this?
A. Dr. Qadiri is a global leader, he is a humanitarian leader, social reformer, scholar, and his network of Minhaj ul Quran schools is present in more than 90 countries. He is not a leader in a certain country or province, he is a global Islamic researcher and scholar. He has presented lectures based on the counter narrative of extremism and terrorism. We can say he is presenting the soft image of Islam in the West, he is a scholar, a global leader. So we reject this accusation. Secondly he was abroad to consult doctors on some health issues. In the UK he was consulting party members on how to enhance party activities in the UK and Europe.
There can also be no comparison between Dr Qadiri and Gullen. Dr. Qadiri is a social reformer on humanitarian issues. It is his basic right to visit any country.
Q. What is the role of Minhaj ul Quran schools in combating extremism in Muslim and non-Muslim countries?
These schools play a vital and valid role because Dr. Qadiri wrote a syllabus of 25 books on Islamic Curriculum on Peace and Counter Terrorism for use by students and scholars and law enforcement agencies. Scholars graduating from these schools and Islamic centers are spreading a message of peace, harmony and exposing Wahhabi end extremist ideologies, actually they are exposing the Aal Saud. Through this syllabus in universities and colleges, people will understand the message of Islam is peace not terrorism.
Q. What’s your movement’s opinion on the Kashmir conflict and the rising India-Pakistani tensions?
A. Dr. Qadiri believes that the issue of Kashmir is not unilateral, neither is it bilateral or trilateral, it is multilateral and should be considered a humanitarian issue. Kashmiris are demanding self-determination, the right for a plebiscite. This is a basic right accepted by United Nations Resolutions. India is providing lame excuses and violating UN resolutions while using brutal force against innocent unarmed Kashmiri Muslim civilians and this is unacceptable. This is the moment of Intifada (uprising), the moment of freedom. It is the moment of a young Kashmiri leader, freedom fighter and role model Burhan Wani who was martyred by the Indian army. Thousands of Kashmiri Muslims have been butchered by the Indian army. The world should play a vital role and focus on this issue by initiating dialogue between India and Pakistan. Kashmiris should be given the right to choose, either to join India, Pakistan or gain independence. India is depriving them of this right. Our opinion is that Kashmiris should be given the right to freedom.
Q. What is your opinion on Pakistan’s ties with its neighbors?
A.Pakistan believes that there should be good ties with its neighbors while maintaining sovereignty and self-integrity because our national interests are supreme. We believe in brotherly ties with the Islamic Republic of Iran, Turkey and Afghanistan. The issues between Islamic countries should be resolved through dialogue to strengthen Muslim brotherhood.
Q. Pakistan is a US ally in the so called war on terror, does your movement believe the Islamabad government has been successful especially considering the deadly CIA drone attacks inside Pakistani territory.
A. Pakistani army and defense strategists believe our national interests are supreme and no one is above national interests. Pakistan cannot allow any foreign aggression or invasion on its soil. Our forces have sacrificed more than 50,000 lives in the war against terror. We salute Pakistani forces and their bravery because they have succeeded in combating terrorism and eradicating it from its roots. Now Pakistani forces are in the second phase of this operation which involves taking action against terrorism sympathizers. Pakistan has paid a high price and a vital role in the war on terror in order to establish peace and coexistence.
On the US drone attacks, Pakistan has told them they should not violate the country’s territorial integrity. It is clear, Pakistani forces can now take action on their own in the war on terrorism.
Q. What is the position of your movement regarding the emergence of Takfiri terrorist groups, such as Taliban, Sepah Sahaba, and ISIS in Pakistan?
A. Dr. Tahir Qadiri played a vital role against these Takfiri groups in the historic fatwa known as “Fitna Khawarij” . He also wrote the Islamic Curriculum on Peace and Counter Terrorism which consists of 25 books now taught in Pakistani universities and colleges. Young people are now aware of extremism, terrorism and the true spirit of Islam. We believe that Takfiri ideology is not based on the teachings of Islam. There is no relation between Islam and terrorism. Islam is a religion of peace. This is the clear message by Dr. Tahirul Qadiri. The young people of Pakistan want to get rid of extremism and terrorism. We can see changes in Pakistan and the country is moving towards Peace.