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Jan 14, 2013 at 09:22am IST

Pakistan: Months ahead of elections, cleric Tahir-ul-Qadri leads million-man march to Islamabad

Lahore: Just months ahead of elections in Pakistan, a lesser known Sufi cleric Tahir-ul-Qadri is carrying out a million-man march to Islamabad demanding electoral reforms. But many are calling his actions politically motivated.

More than 22,000 policemen are out to ensure that Tahir-ul-Qadri's long march to Islamabad isn't able to take over the city with containers cutting off the central 'blue area' that leads to Parliament and the presidential compound. Qadri says all he wants is for the government to enact electoral reforms before the country goes to vote in a few months or he says he and a million supporters will stage a sit-in in Islamabad.

But many wonder at Qadri's timing, and say he is an agent of the military, trying to delay elections rather than reform them.

Qadri, who runs a big movement of seminaries under his Minhaj-ul-Quran organisation has already held one massive rally in Lahore and could draw lakhs to Islamabad for an Anna Hazare-style agitation. The biggest worry, that Qadri's moderate barelvi followers may be under threat from the Taliban.

Meanwhile, for Pakistan's PPP government, already hit by massive protests over the targetting killings of Shia hazaras in Quetta, and embroiled in tensions and LoC firing against India, the march itself couldn't have come at a worse time.