The following blog post has been republished with the permission of the author Fayez Asar and originally appeared as a Facebook note on the author's page - this post is an account of the 23rd March 2013 PTI rally in Lahore, Pakistan.
10 Magical Minutes at the PTI Jalsa
10 Magical Minutes at the PTI Jalsa
I wanted to write about the entire Jalsa at the Minar-e-Pakistan on 23rd March 2013, but I’ll save that for another day. Right now, I just want to write about the last 10 magical minutes of the Jalsa. Just those last few minutes made my entire trip completely worth it.
The weather was extremely pleasant throughout the day. It was not too hot to begin with and the occasional light drizzle helped cool everyone down even further. The mood was extremely festive as it always is at PTI Jalsas. As expected, the crowd became much more focused once Imran Khan stepped onto the podium. The crowd knew that this was a special day where he was going to officially kick off PTI’s election campaign by delivering a big speech. People knew that Imran Khan was going to summarize the principles on which the Naya Pakistan would be built. All singing and chanting came to a halt as they listened to every word attentively and clapped on all key points with proud passion and discipline.
However, things changed quite dramatically as Imran Khan started making his 6 promises to the nation. As if his simple and clear promises were not enough to signal a refreshing wind of change, God wanted to give his own signals to the incompetent and corrupt leaders of the old Pakistan. It was as if God wanted to show them how fierce and decisive the winds of change will be for them. The drizzle quickly turned into a massive storm with intense thunder, lightning and wind. Our clothes were completely drenched in rain water in no time. The wind was so strong that the rain drops were blowing completely horizontally from behind the crowd straight into the strong and broad shoulders of the lion of Pakistan standing before us. His strength and ferocity in this situation gave energy and courage to his young and old tigers alike. It felt like each promise shook the very foundations (or whatever is left of it) of the old Pakistan. With each promise the storm gained strength.
We had promised our leader only moments ago that we would stand there with him no matter how severe the storm got. We were not going to let him down so soon. We all stood there until as long as we could see him up on stage. I turned around and all the nearly half a million of us seemed just as resolute in spite of the dangerous lightning, rain and wind. We all wanted to make the Jalsa a great success by standing resolute, not realizing that the Jalsa was already a success long before Imran even stepped on the podium. We did not know that nearly 0.5 million had showed up (there was no internet access there). We could only guess by seeing how cramped up we all were in such a big park and the fact that we could see a sea of people even outside the park.
By the time Imran Khan was done explaining his third promise, the rain and wind were so strong that we could barely hear him any longer. The entire crowd around me was convinced that God was signaling his approval of each word being spoken by our truthful and upright leader and the wind was a wind of change and rain was washing away the old, corrupt and incompetent and leaving behind a Naya Pakistan. The realization that God was very visibly there with us caused everyone to enter a kind of trance where even the calmest of souls were screaming and roaring. I have never experienced such loud crowd sustained for so long. This felt like a scene from a movie (a Brave Heart or a Gladiator), except that this was real life and I was right there in the middle of all this. We could tell that our lion continued with his speech in spite of the storm which added to the drama. We couldn’t hear him, but that was OK. He had already promised that he will only speak the truth and will always fight for justice. We trusted him to continue shaking the foundations of the old Pakistan with each word that he spoke.
Imran Khan inspired everyone in those 10 minutes to become a lion like him. When he leads, a whole nation follows. I hope the passion from those 10 minutes spreads like wildfire across all of Pakistan over the next 50 days helping PTI sweep the elections and results in the emergence of a Naya Pakistan soon afterwards. I hope our flags flutter as proudly as the flags were fluttering in those 10 minutes of wind storm. I hope the strong and proud shoulders of the young men holding those flags form the foundations of this Naya Pakistan. I hope my children and their children experience the same kind of pride and passion I did on the 23rd of March, but I hope that pride is based on who we are then and not just based on who we want to be. The struggle will not be easy just like it wasn’t easy facing the storm that night, but with the right leadership and our resolve we will insha-Allah achieve this dream of a Naya Pakistan.