THE BLOG
09/05/2014 04:36 EDT | Updated 11/05/2014 05:59 EST

Canadian Cleric Tahir-ul-Qadri Creating Chaos in Nuclear Pakistan

For over two weeks, the government of Pakistan and its capital are paralyzed, held hostage by a mob of about 50,000 people with mounting evidence the country's military is behind the chaos.

Every country has an army, but in Pakistan it's the other way around -- the army has a country.

From its inception in 1947, Pakistan has been held hostage by its military. From production of cereals to nuclear bombs, from housing construction to cement manufacture, committing genocide in Bangladesh in 1971 to now hosting and arming ISIS affiliates in Balochistan,

Pakistan's army has ruled the country with an iron grip, despite the of veneer of democracy.

Once upon a time, military coups in Pakistan would be bloodless, executed with the precision of a knife going through butter.

If the generals were not pleased with the elected or appointed prime minister, they would simply send in the infamous 111 Brigade headquartered in the capital to the prime minister's residence, arrest him and simply oust the man.

The last coup was in 1999 when General Musharraf overthrew Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and had him and his family exiled.

Then in 2009 came the U.S. "Enhanced Partnership with Pakistan Act of 2009," better known as the Kerry-Lugar Bill. Its intent was to ensure the American-funded Pakistan Armed Forces would pay a heavy price if they dared to topple democratically elected governments as they did throughout its 67-year troubled history.

The law authorizes the release of $1.5 billion US per year to the government of Pakistan, but with one caveat: If the Pakistan military overthrew the elected civilian government, the aid would end.

The Pakistani military fumed that the bill required the Secretary of State to provide assessments every six months on whether Pakistan's civilian government had effective control over the armed forces, including "oversight and approval of military budgets."

Despite opposition from the military and the hurt pride of ordinary Pakistanis the then government of President Asif Zardari signed on to the conditions, hoping its provisions would keep the military from over-stepping its constitutional role.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif who won the country's 2013 elections in a landslide was in the process of starting peace talks with India, but the Army would have nothing of that sort.

Peace with India could hit at the very raison d'etre of Pakistan's massive armed forces and shrink its role. But the Kerry-Lugar Bill ensured the army could not send in its feared 111 Brigade for a bloodless coup d'état.

Instead, the military employed a new tactic.

They relied on a Canadian cleric Tahir-ul-Qadri to topple the civilian government through mob violence. Qadri, who has a cult-like religious following back home in Pakistan, denies he was motivated by the military or had any links with the army's intelligence agencies.

Qadri is accused of twice playing a part in backing military juntas in nuclear-armed Pakistan, arrived from Canada on July 23 and on August 14 -- the country's Independence Day anniversary -- announced a "revolution" march on Islamabad by a million people to force a change in government.

He was joined in the exercise by the cricketer-turned politician Imran Khan who led a parallel procession to protest what he called rigging in last year's polls.

On reaching Islamabad, Qadri's supporters attacked police. Video emerged of his supporters beating a cop to death. Newsweek reports Qadri has now been charged with murder while the Islamabad newspaper The Daily Times reports the Canadian cleric has been charged with terrorism as well.

A former senior official in the Pakistan government described Qadri as "a chameleon with close ties to Pakistani military intelligence; a Rasputin who uses religion for his own ends."

Explaining the current crisis, the official said: "The real issue is Nawaz's willingness to compromise with India. The army wants full control over foreign and national security policy. The generals cannot stage a coup due to fears of international isolation but they also don't want to let the civilians govern."

I asked Citizenship Minister Chris Alexander whether Qadri would be stripped of his citizenship under Bill C-24 and refused re-entry into Canada now that he has been charged with terrorism in Pakistan. I am hoping he will and am waiting for his response as I am sure are most Canadians should.