An ‘adda’ is a place where people meet and interact. Growing up in Lahore one had to know where ‘Mozang Adda’ was, then Mozang Chungi followed by Chungi Amir Sahdu and then one finally reached Kasur. This was Bulley Shah’s route that he travelled to meet his Murshid (Spiritual Guide), Shah Inayat, who lived in Lahore. There is a mosque near Chungi Amir Sadhu that is named after Bulley Shah where he would break is journey. Both the guide and his illustrious pupil operated from their own ‘Addas’ or Gaddis (as the Sufis call it).

When Bulley Shah earned his wings by serving the people of Kasur, the city dwellers decided to build a new one around his shrine. In his lifetime the saint had predicted that Kasur will move with Bulley. Today his Mazar (grave) is one of the important Sufi centres of the world.

Musical rendering of his poetry by Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and Madame Nur Jehan who also hailed from Kasur have immortalized his works.

Though physically not there but spiritually the saint lives on.

Now coming back to the common folks and their interactions, like my father, the businessman was very perturbed when he decided to wrap up his business. Retiring from his enterprise was not a big deal for him as none of his children were interested in joining his venture, but he was unwilling to give up his ‘adda’. He kept insisting that he had operated from this place for over forty years and its goodwill was invaluable and irreplaceable. Finally he rented the showroom but kept his office through which he networked till his last days. The family still maintains the ‘adda’ as a tribute to his honest and dignified innings and the interaction with the people of the area is on-going. The legacy of Malik Sahib of Anarklai continues through his ‘adda’ that he revered.

Current heavyweights of PTI have established two ‘addas’ on Shami Road not too far from each other. One is run by Shah Mahmood Qureshi (SMQ) and is called the ‘Leadership Support Office’ (LSO) while the other is headed by Chaudhry Sarwar and is called Provincial Coordinator’s Office (PCO). The road is named after Brigadier Ahsan Rasheed Shami who embraced martyrdom in the 1965 war with India.

His family built a house and till recently his widow lived there till her demise. His son Major General Sikander Shami is now retired and currently resides in Lahore. Shami Road certainly qualifies as their ‘adda’.

PTI ‘adda’ in Punjab was established by Comrade Ahsan Rashid (late) in the basement of his house on Nisar Road. Regular meetings were held here. Think tanks made presentations to the Chairman for which all arrangements were made available. Ahsan Sahib was an able son of Lahore. He was raised on Temple Road (off Mall Road) and studied at St Anthony’s High School not too far away. After finishing his studies he joined Pakistan National Oil Company in Karachi. He made his mark as an Oil Executive and rose to be the President of company based in Jeddah. On the call of kaptaan he returned home and launched the party with honesty and dedication in 2006.

When the party expanded another office was established in Faisal Town which was called the Provicial Secretariat. The expenses of running this office were borne by Ahsan Sahib himself and by member donations. Flood relief efforts in 2010 were also co-ordinated from this office. The mammoth Lahore Jalsa of October 2011 was launched from here as well. As founder member Ahsan Sahib’s efforts for building the party are un-matched. He was in line to be elected President of Punjab PTI in the Inter Party Elections and then Chief Minister of the province after the general election.

In order to establish an ‘adda’ one has to have credible credentials and extended record of service to the people of the area. Lahore has always played a pivotal role in politics of the country. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto (ZAB) launched his party from here in 1967. Allama Mashriqi and his Khaksar Tehrik was also head quartered in Ichara. The resolution for Pakistan was passed in the city on March 23, 1940. PML-N draws its strength from Takht-e- Lahore. ZAB willed to be buried in Lahore as part of his political legacy but ZIA wanted to confine him to Sindh. It seems there is similar attempt to contain Imran Khan in KPK as a provincial leader.

Like Comrade Ahsan Rashid, Imran is a son of Lahore, born and educated in the city. Zaman Park is the ‘addas’ of the Pathans of Jullander as they are called where he was raised and learnt to play cricket in its central park. Political battle ground is Lahore not Islamabad. His ‘adda’ in Bani Gala is out of the mainstream. The PTI long march and dharna in 2014 was also started from Zaman Park, and so was the movement for restoration of judges from the ‘adda’ of Comrade Aitzaz Ahsan.

Shami road in the cantonment limits is too docile a place to have PTI ‘addas’ to be headed by two new comers to the party and the city. Till today Kasur is recognized as dera of Bulley Shah. Lahore is spiritually called the Dharti (place) of Data Sahib but politically it is up for grabs. The ‘adda’ of Sharif’s in Lahore has to be challenged by another local son by returning back to his roots in Zaman Park. After the demise of Comrade Ahsan Rashid PTI has been without its ‘adda’ in the provincial capital and the heart of Pakistan, only the Kaptaan can fill this void. Let the Shami’s live peacefully on Shami road, while PTI moves back to its original ‘adda’ where it was born on April 25, 1996.