Lahore: The Pakistan government will not block a "long march" to be led by cleric Tahir-ul-Qadri to press for electoral reforms but there are reports that the rally could be attacked by the Taliban, Interior Minister Rehman Malik said today.
Malik made the remarks while talking to reporters after he met Qadri at his residence here and informed him of "potential threats" to the long march that the cleric intends to lead from Lahore to Islamabad on January 14.
"No obstacle will be created against the long march of Tahir-ul-Qadri and we will facilitate it," Malik said.
He said he had come to Lahore to persuade Qadri not to go ahead with the rally as "there are intelligence reports that terrorists would target the gathering in Islamabad".
Malik added that Qadri’s agenda was not to postpone the general election scheduled to be held in the next few months.
"His demands are not extra-constitutional," he said.
Qadri said his party, Tehrik Minhaj-ul-Quran, did not wish to postpone the polls.
"I will lead at least two million people to Islamabad, and half of them may turn towards Lahore if the long march is obstructed," he said.
He claimed the government is using state machinery to impede his rally.
The rally had been planned as a peaceful event but there was no guarantee it "would remain peaceful if attempts were made to sabotage it", Qadri said.
Qadri recently returned to Pakistan after living in Canada for seven years and stirred up a storm in political circles by saying he would lead a rally to Islamabad to push the government into consulting the army and judiciary on forming a caretaker administration to oversee the polls.
However, leaders of the ruling Pakistan People`s Party and main opposition PML-N have accused Qadri of acting as a front for the powerful security establishment.