talkin’ bout inquilab

beyond che-inspired t-shirts

So, I’m not good at wielding banners. I know this from the days when Islamabad first discovered activism – slogans and me, they don’t work too well. But I really, truly wanted to attend Imran Khan’s “Jashn-e-Azadi” Dharna last night. If anything, he’s come to represent a desperate kind of hope for something good, something clean and fresh and strong enough to mobilize a generation of apathetic young people.

We vacillated a while, as Pakistani ladies do before deciding to attend a late night political rally. In Ramzan, on the 13th of August, etc. But the strange and wonderful thing was that very many people we knew were out there, shrugging at security concerns and saying, “Don’t worry, just come.” It’s heartening, it matters. So we headed out and got there to find a massive congregation on Constitution Avenue – several thousand-strong. There was ice cream and cold drinks and children and laughter; finally, some show of Independence Day festivity. And we were found by friends and handed a flag, and it felt good to hold.

The Secretary General sounded like he should, I suppose, delivering sweeping rhetoric in his best rally-voice. A recording of “Tera karam Maula”  seemed to work quite well as Junaid Jamshed’s contribution to the event, even if I would secretly have preferred “Dil, dil Pakistan”. Everyone strained to hear M. A. Jinnah’s crackling voice giving his first national address, and the countdown to midnight was just about right. Balloons, cheering, national anthem – Happy Birthday, Pakistan!

And then there was Imran Khan.

Icon.

Star.

Good-looking Pathan Man.

His voice boomed, people cheered. I happily succumbed to groupthink and thought, “Our Leader”.

But then, well.

He started out with some bashing of rival parties – which is quite standard, might be forgiven. Then he moved  on to some serious bashing of the USA. Which, for him, is also quite standard. Except, soon enough, brows began to furrow. These were old words, the ones pandering to anti-American sentiment. Oh, don’t.

We will not be slaves, we will not be pawns.

There was no Pakistani Taliban, no TTP before.

This is not our war.

Violence breeds violence, it’s true. The number of civilian casualties during drone strikes and our own military operations has been heart-wrenching. But for the sake of the God you invoke so often, look around you. Peshawar. Karachi. Even sterile Islamabad. No one, anywhere, feels safe.

There are multiple wars in this country, in multiple hotbeds of volatility. Several of them are purely our own. People are tired, now, of closing shop and living in uncertainty when it comes to food, water, energy and human security. They are tired of a great many things, which is why they have begun looking towards the PTI. So start off on a positive note in your Jashn-e-Azadi address; be kind to those who have come out to support you.  If there are ideological rifts and ethnic disintegration, acknowledge them as serious issues that have to be dealt with. But stop being so abrasive, so that you can be inspiring.

Maybe he got there. To be fair, we then joined a stream of people moving towards the exit. We left just as he was saying, “Thank God I don’t have a wife. I’ve heard they’re really big on shopping.”

Really, now.

I’m glad to have gotten a taste of it. Simply to have seen so many different kinds of people wanting to be in sync, wanting to be naive. The PTI support base is largely urban, we know, largely middle class and above. But people came in droves today, in coasters and buses from different places and backgrounds. I just wish I could commit to revolutionary slogans, without a shade of doubt.

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3 responses to “talkin’ bout inquilab

  1. Madeeha you narrated the whole “Jashan-e-Azadi” jalsa very well but I want to give my input in it, first there is a correction that Imran is not a pashtun pathan 🙂
    yeah he is source of inspiration for our youth but the only fear I have is that our youth never actively participated in elections, so only change can come if this youth ‘l also came out on the day of election and vote for him. I was there from my channel to cover this event (by the way I’m also a supporter of Imran Khan) so I discussed there with people especially with young boys came there from different cities like Abbotabad, Peshawar, Faisalabad etc etc that ‘l you vote for PTI or Imran Khan. Most of them were saying “hum Imran Khan ko vote kerain gey InshAllah next election mein” and when I asked k “bhai Imran khud to aap ki city se election nahi contest kera ga to kia aap jis ko woh party ticket dai ga usko bhi vote kero gey” and the reply was “hmm candidate dekh k decide kerain gey” so my fear is still there that how can you bring Imran in power when you are not going to vote his party candidates, he cannot contest from 360 seats of national assembly. anyways but one new thing which he mentioned in his speech was true on which I am agree with him that Pakistani nation is the only one giving maximum money in charity but minimum in shape of taxes, the only reason behind it is we don’t trust our government. but on other side I’m not agree with his anti US theory. anyhow lets see and wait for the next elections.

    • Thanks Asad! You’re right – it’s been a personality driven party that still needs considerable strengthening. People need to be able to bank on more than the belief that one man’s heart is in the right place. But there’s still time till 2013.

      Also…Niazi, Khan, Punjabi Pathan. Murky waters!

  2. The wife part was funny! 😛 The rest was pretty usual..like you said. I do not understand that if he’s so empathetic of Pakistanis’ problems, can’t he even “Verbally” condemn TTP/Taliban? How sensitive he is towards them!

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