As I write this, just after returning from casting my vote, hopes and expectations run high. The last week has been such a roller coaster. As though everything was being propelled at breakneck speed to fast forward us to May 11. The normal and noisy campaign changed the day Imran Khan fell 15 feet from the makeshift lifter and for two hours the whole nation held its breath. Just the mere thought that the fall may have dire consequences sent unbelievable shock waves through the country. It was only after he spoke for just a few minutes from his hospital bed that the sigh of relief was heaved. It was those few minutes, which also changed the complexion of the elections and the fight went out of all those who were opposing his party vehemently.

The close shave caused many who, for one reason or another, were not supporting him earlier, to have a change of heart. You only realise how much you value something when you come close to losing it. The outpouring of spontaneous emotion after the accident cannot be quite described in words. It was so at all levels. The power of the collective wishes of so many willed Imran towards an unexplainably quick recovery. It was as W. Whitman has written in his poem:

“O Captain! My Captain! Rise up

and hear the bells,

   Rise up - for you the flag is

flung - for you the bugle trills,

   For you the bouquets and

ribbon’d wreaths, for you the

shores a-     crowding,

For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning.”

The outpouring of sentiments also made it well nigh impossible to predict the outcome of the elections with certainty for the most seasoned of pundits and political analysts. They have stopped committing to even the broadest of predictions and become quite fazed when asked for an analysis.

Sometimes, as one learns from experience, things just come together to create a resounding success. I remember Sarmad Khoosat saying words to the same effect when questioned why Humsafar, the television drama he directed, gained unparalled popularity a year ago.

In much the same way, the journey that Imran has been on for the last 17 years, in search for the illusive Pakistan dream, has now come into full blossom. In a moment to savour, his staunchest opponents and doubters do no longer doubt his intentions. There is news today of the ex-Information Minister of PPP, Firdous Ashiq Awan, having withdrawn at the last minute, so to speak, in favour of PTI from a Sialkot constituency.

It has been such shoddy five years of democracy and there is a lot of pent up emotion about how Pakistan was taken for a personal ride by Asif Ali Zardari after BB’s assassination. There is a determination that we will vote better this time.

One feels almost sorry for the PPP when one compares it to what it originally was and to where it finds itself today. The PPP has to reinvent and rediscover itself before the next elections - it owes that to the memory of its founding fathers.

I am sure the PML-N is also writhing with anger at this unexpected turn of events, which is preventing them from getting the clean sweep they thought was their due. Cruelty to animals aside, their display tiger dying on them is surely not a good omen either!

Glimpses of Mian Sahib’s interview to Karan Thaper did not show him in a great light either and he should have avoided it, just as he studiously avoided the direct debate on TV with Imran Khan.

To come back to the evening of May 9, this was supposed to be the last day for election campaigns, and Islamabad was the place for the final PTI jalsa in D-Chowk. The highlight was going to be a speech by Imran via video link from his hospital bed in Shaukat Khanum Hospital. While the number of people, who came out for this event cannot be determined, suffice it to say that the cheering crowd filled two sectored lengths of the city. The passion and the energy was almost palpable. There was not a single incident of misbehaviour, despite the fact that there were many women and children in the crowd. In turn, we sang, we rejoiced, we prayed and, most of all, we hoped for a better collective future as key team members of PTI took turns in speaking to the audience. It was a very special evening, which set the pace for the elections.

The moment when Imran Khan came on the screen, lying on a slightly tilted hospital bed, the cheering just would not stop. He, as he had promised, spoke directly and from the heart. He spoke to each and every Pakistani in all the provinces and to every member of all religious minorities. He asked us to take our fate into our own hands and to vote for a new Pakistan. It is that dream that we have seen again, which will not be stolen from us. We are no longer going to be bystanders and helplessly watch the ruins that surround us - where there was supposed to be a model, progressive country. The oath which all of us present at the jalsa took with Imran that day shall ever remain imprinted on my heart and mind.

It remains to be seen what the tally of seats is for PTI when the results are finalised, but one thing is already definite: the change in mindset is firmly in place and it will be impossible for anybody in power to be able to get away with the way things have been in the past. After the May 9 spontaneous outpouring at D-Chowk, I hope the day is not far when it is renamed be ‘Tehrik Square’, to commemorate the day when an oath was taken by the whole nation in front of a potential cabinet, instead of the

The writer is a public relations and event management professional  based in Islamabad.