John F. Kennedy once said, “Mothers may still want their favorite sons to grow up to be President, but . .they do not want them to become politicians in the process” . Politicians, specially Pakistani have always been maneuvering and scheming on issues to achieve personal or partisan gains. They don’t solve the problems of the masses, rather they exploit on them. But then that’s why they are called politicians and that’s what differentiates them from a Leader. Politicians maneuver, scheme, bargain, bend, buy and sell out to gain power but a leader stands by principles, stands for people, solves their problems or at least tries to solve them. Where a politician will always look for opportunities to benefit from and climb up the ladder of power and position at the expense of nation, a leader will make decision pertaining to the good and welfare of the nation, where nation is a dignified priority, an ultimate duty and self has to be ignored and set aside. The difficult and dangerous decision of conducting a Jalsa in the burning Balochistan if not suicidal has to be one of the most sacrificial stances by Imran Khan of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, that too without a bullet proof glass chamber and face to face with the Balochistani public.” Such was the theme of the discussion after we offered Fajar prayers on the Jalsa day and sat to have our breakfast. More and more guys were joining us in Jalil’s guest room which was big enough to accommodate 100+ persons I suppose. Looking at all those faces of Imran Khan’s supporters I can solemnly state that we all were nervous and afraid in a strange way. As if we all knew that the captain had led his team long hard miles defeating all odds, shocking the world and today was our final match of the 1992 world cup against the giant England who were too strong on the paper. We had full confidence in our Captain, his abilities, his leadership and devotion but at the very point we were too much afraid to fail him and to disappoint him on the big day. We were meager and the weather and ground and pitch everything went against us on April 20th 2012.
It was 8:30 AM when Salar Khan Kakar ( a local PTI supporter and writer) arrived with his group of boys carrying banners and flags and wearing PTI badges, caps and wrist bands. And the interrogating looks at his face clearly questioned why aren’t we out already. Before he asked, Jalil suggested that the rain had slowed down, we waited an hour for it to stop and then went out, to which Salar offered some censorable show of emotions towards weather, mud, water and circumstances. He almost scolded all of us saying we shouldn’t make the world laugh at Imran smearing that his tigers have nested under covers because of the rain. I put his words on Twitter to “@ImranKhanPTI” when he argued that “Rain only expedites Tsunami” we got to reach the Jalsa-gah and help with the preparations in case the officials need us. I was so relieved to see his electrified emotions for his country and the leader because meeting such die hard patriots makes me believe I am not abnormally in love with Pakistan. I wore my best Shalwar Qameez suite and at 9 o’clock, with hearts still pounding loudly and brains assessing the outcome of the day, our rally was ready to march across the city towards the Jalsa-gah at Ayub-Stadium-Quetta.
We were about 40 to 60 guys and we were on the roads now carrying Pakistan and PTI flags. The banners we carried said “Kon Bachahega Pakistan, Imran Khan Imran Khan” , “Muhafiz-e-Pakistan Imran Khan Zindabad” , “Badlo Burrey Nizam Ko, Vote Do Imran Ko” etc. Different guys led the rally as we marched chanting different slogans all the way. The sun was out and Quetta roads were filling with public. Five days rain had left the roads reminiscent of canals and ponds. Water level was at knee length at some roads and I don’t want to explain how my shoes and socks felt about it. More groups of PTI supporters were joining us on our way ahead, kids were running along with us asking for badges and caps and we gave some a few. We were seeing PTI flags on cars, auto rikshaws, bikes and even bicycles. There were supporters who chanted with us, waved at us or just smiled at us and there were also few from other parties who would try to remix our slogans while we chanted. At one occasion few of our supporters got angry at few guys who remixed a PTI slogan into a PG-R category line but peace prevailed when the seniors in the group intervened and we resumed our march. It took us about quarter to four hours to reach the Jalsa-gah all across the city from Satellite Town Quetta to Ayub Stadium. It was about 1 o’clock when with much difficulty we entered the Hockey Stadium, the security volunteers of PTI Balochistan in green uppers wouldn’t compromise on anything and checked every guy head to toes before allowing entry in the Jalsa-gah. Annoying for many but relieving that our leadership and supporters will be safe once inside the stadium.
Scenes inside the stadium weren’t too promising, just first ten odd rows of chairs filled and majority of occupants are children, the stage of the Jalsa-gah is at some stage of renovation, a portion of stadium is reserved for women but where are the women? Two huge tankers busy sucking the water off the ground which is up to a good foot height and the thing every cricketer and cricket fan hates, thick dark clouds covering the sky. My mates and I didn’t utter a word but I am sure just like me, they all in their hearts pleaded the people of Quetta and the God above not to let the captain down today. We sank in chairs in probably the 11th or 12th row and I think I remained quiet for good five minutes pretending to be tweeting but I wasn’t. I didn’t want my friends from PTI Cyber Force and all other PTI supporters waiting for my updates to think we lost the Tehreek-e-Pakistan Movement we carried to Balochistan. Not just yet! Salar Kakar, I guess saw the grim on my face, he took the chair next to me and claimed that people will flood the Jalsa-gah after the Jumma Prayers. “Easy words of solace” I thought, and accompanied Jalil to find a dry place inside the Jalsa-gah to offer prayers. Its 1:30 now and I had to ask my mates if the women of Quetta had gone to offer Juma Prayers too? They all laughed to it and I came back to sit on my seat wondering if I really meant it to be funny! Approximately ten more rows behind us had filled but not at all enough to the standards PTI had been setting across the country in regard to numbers in their Jalsaz. With all apologies to womenhood in Quetta, I wasn’t getting my expectations too high about their presence in the Jalsa. Quetta is the capital city of Balochistan, a tribal and very reserved area where women both educated and not belong to household for whole of their lives. I was expecting them on the political front for running the country in a province where they were not even supposed to drive an Alto. Just as I was concluding the men of Quetta the most boorish, chauvinistic and a few more non-indignant superlatives for restricting the mighty women from all the good they could do I saw the men in Jalsa-gah shifting their attention to our right, where women were supposed to sit and I had to chew my words back because the gray seats were now becoming a multi colored rainbow of green, red, yellow and all varieties. The women of Quetta had displayed an historic change shocking all the skeptics like me who doubted their abilities, ambitions and courage on the day. They were present in quite huge numbers and more were coming as I saw them with Pakistan and PTI flags and some waving them enthusiastically. I wanted to concede a loud shout of “more power to you daughters of Balochistan”, but I controlled my emotions.
I stood up on my seat to have a view of the Jalsa-gah and I could tell some mosques in Quetta had completed Jumma Prayers, the stadium was half filled now. The grim clouds in my heart were receding but the clouds above were now darker than before, rain now was just a matter of time, people were taking shopping bags out and putting their mobile phones in them, the stage had been covered and the camera crews of different channels had taken their umbrellas out. Good God have you awarded the sons and daughters of Balochistan the power to stand this rain and the cold it will inflict on them? I didn’t have to wait much longer for this question to be answered. In a while I reported on Twitter that the stadium had 75% been crowded and I reported rain. My next tweet said “Heavy Heavy Rain” Rain wouldn’t stop any sooner and it was drizzling now and I once again stood on my chair to see if people were succumbing to it and leaving the Jalsa-gah, if ladies were leaving and if rain was defeating Tsunami.
Not to be, NOT AT ALL to be! Rain was only expediting the Tsunami today. People were persisting despite buckets of water pouring down on them from the sky, Pakistan and PTI flags were waving higher and with much fervor now and new slogans were being born “Barish hogi jharna hoga, Jalsa Hoga Jalsa Hoga”. Jumma prayers had been offered and the prayers asked by the people of Quetta for the acceptance and success of a positive Change were to be fruitful. People were coming in large numbers despite heavy showers and a whole stadium now was becoming a less larger place to accommodate them. The women, the children, the men of all age groups totally soaked in water bearing the chilly freezing breeze stood strong on the day by their captain making sure that weather didn’t defeat him. Making sure that the deciding match of Quetta on 20th April will not be postponed or canceled and the rivals like corrupt political parties, beaurocracy and all such tools of status quo are clean bowled and assured that the Tsunami has reached Quetta, it’s about time they packed up.
It seemed as if the rain and the people were having a competition now, it was still raining but huge rallies of PTI supporters were entering the Jalsa-gah with rapid frequency. The passage area left for the movement between chairs was getting filled, rows of chairs were moving ahead towards stage to make space for new entrants. Gaps between chairs and then supporters were narrowing down, I was told PTI battalions from interior Balochistan had landed off shore to come and strengthen the Tariq Bin Ziyad of PTI. We had out-flooded the rain and now stood body to body with each other with our faces towards the stage of the Jalsa-gah. Every soldier of change wanting to reach the front of the battle field, the stage, to be nearest to his leaders but all roads to front and center were blocked by more soldiers. The chairs were out-numbered by a ratio of approximately 7 to 1 and with so many people standing in front of you blocking your view, there was no point sitting. Those who had occupied chairs stood up on them, those who didn’t stood on each other’s shoulders, those who couldn’t do either sidelined the chair leaders so that they could see the stage clearly. I could see people standing on buildings, on the walls of the stadium and on the trees outside the stadium all wanting to witness the history in creation. A huge roar heard from the back of the Jalsa-gah, some PTI leader had entered the Jalsa-gah. Is it Imran Khan ? is it Baghi or Qureshi? Or all of them together? Azam Swati was already in Quetta, is it him? Everyone asking questions, everyone ostriching their necks to have a glimpse to know who it is but to no avail. Too many people too densely populated in this stadium now. We are a building of bodies and no single component can move independently. This was probably the most euphoric human traffic-jam of my life. More and more applauds from the back of the jalsa-gah but we stopped trying to look because we couldn’t. All of us now focusing our attention on the stage trying to find out which of the leaders had reached. Someone saw Azam Swati, some one claimed Faisal Javed Khan is there. Who is he I asked? He’s the PTI stage secretory and he really brings the crowd to life. Ok great! No news was a good enough good news for the Quettaites, they all desired the same breaking news, the same headline. All eyes searching one face on the stage and every one asking questions about him, Has Imran Khan arrived? Can you see him? he hasn’t gone across us else we would know, no he might have used the back gate for entry, no he might be on his way from Serena Hotel or airport now. Quetta had filled the Ayub Hockey Stadium with about 1 lac sons and daughters of its city and now the proud locals couldn’t wait to welcome their leader and show him that they all had come on his call despite all odds against them and that they would always stand by him through every thick and thin, they just need him to lead them, they are ready for change and to be changed for good.
While I was marveling at the unity of the diverse ethnic groups of Baloch, Pushtoon, Punjabhi and other settler Balochistanis in the Jalsa-gah, someone proclaimed he could see Imran Khan on the stage, to which we all asked in chorus “WHERE?”. The guy was trying to show him to us, he said he is sitting next to Shah Mehmood Qureshi and Javed Hashmi, no he’s sitting in between them. he’s wearing a blue coat, no its black the other guy said. I just asked them if they could see a red muffler around his neck and they both affirmed with a loud Yes. And I knew my captain had landed in the ground and after standing on my toes up on the chair for a while I could sight him my self, the most handsome and most fierce leader of Pakistan had taken his place on the stage, the proceedings may commence now. Faisal Javed Khan announced so in a while.
Qasim Soori, Humayun Jogezai, Fouzia Kasoori, Khursheed Qasoori, Murad Saeed, Abrar-ul-Haq, Azam Swati, Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Javed Baghi Hashmi and the Chairman Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Imran Khan addressed The Jalsa. Their words and feelings and plans for the good of Balochistan were reported by almost all media channels of Pakistan but what I feel compulsory to report is the one legged guy who requested us to lift him high enough so he could have a glimpse of the leader of change, what the world must know of was the affection the Baloch and Pushtoon attendants displayed for Javed Hashmi of Punjab when they chanted “Baghi Baghi” for over ten odd minutes and so loud the Baghi had to stop speaking and just smiled receiving that love! And the respect people gave to Azam Swati was so over whelming that he had to wish he migrated from Swat to Quetta and lived with these people now onward. I couldn’t really count the number of times “Pakistan Zindabad” was chanted that day in the province where it had been prohibited since 2004 but I can state with authority that every person in the Jalsa-gah was at the verge of bursting into tears when they sang “Dil Dil Pakistan” and other national songs. The reassurance, resurgence and the revival of patriotism on that day was beyond words could explain. I saw all ethnicities becoming Pakistanis and just Pakistanis, I saw balochs waving Pakistani flags, and I saw Sunnis and Shias standing under those flags without an iota of doubt that they were one on the day. I saw Balochistan becoming Pakistan once again on April 20th 2012. And I knew that those Baloch brothers who are on the mountains or abroad because of bad politicians now know that there is a leader they can expect justice from and he won’t break his words when they put trust in him.
Returning from Jalsa was a phenomenal experience in itself. Every Balochistani who attended the Jalsa on that day was returning home as a victorious conqueror after having defeated all the foreign hands involved in bloodshed in their province and all politicians who exploited and gained on their blood. They had entered the Jalsa-gah as baloch, pushtoons, punjabhi, sindhi, saraiki and sunnis and shias but they all came out as united Pakistanis. All of them including me were tired and exhausted with sore throats, hurting legs and rain-soaked clothes but everyone had an euphoric smile on their lips. They had found a leader who came to them with unconditional support and with all boats burnt and who would lead them out of ethnic, sectarian, linguistic and territorial divide. They saw the hope once again to live with peace and harmony with their lives, properties and loved ones safe at home and at work. Balochistan stood Zindabad on the day and so did Pakistan and it will forever and always INSHALLAH. 3 days later, today when I am writing about the unity, faith and discipline and the love of motherland displayed at the Quetta Jalsa on April 20th 2012, I hear Najam Sethi on “Aapas Ki Baat” failing to find PAKISTANIYAT and Patriotism in Balochistanis in that Jalsa, I switched the television off before he could, once again, claim Pakistan is a failed state and now am listening to a very relevant Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan song on my laptop:
“Shehr Ke Dunkandaro,
Sood Kia Ziyan Kia Hay’
Tum Na Jaan Paogay” !!!