Seven years ago it was 30 October 2011. Like a tsunami moving with angst, force and fury, they swept beyond imaginable in waves of green and red. Bumper to bumper, every road, bypass and short cut was choked. They were flanked by motor cyclists, rickshaws and cyclists flying the bicolour. Like a filled kaleidoscope, all roads choked with traffic and pedestrians led to Minar-e-Pakistan. Lahore had never looked the same since 1940. 

These were the new political activists with aspirations of a new paradigm; the satirically dubbed ‘mummy daddy generation’ taking to roads in Land Cruisers, BMWs, Hondas, trolleys, and rickety buses. The most heartening symbol was a teenager doubling on a bicycle with a younger colleague all the way from Liberty to the venue. As he sweated and paddled the long distance, he was straining sinews not to see a tamasha; rather to get a glimpse of what he perceived a promised land. I am sure that the young cyclist grown in years must have proudly gone and stamped the bat. 

Over the next seven years, these nouvelle activists called softies by political pundits were to cling to their dreams and leader. They endured weather, police batons, tear gas and bullets to become the most effective genre of Pakistan’s diehard, fearless and motivated tigers. They learned street tactics as they grew. Dharna 2 proved them adept in the field craft of infiltration, evading barricades and turning up in huge numbers with an element of surprise. A relentless generation was taking shape.

Moving in this highly charged sea of emotions; my mind went back seven decades. Yes it must have been similar emotions and desires. A new party under Qaid e Azam was storming India and Lahore; the heart of Punjab was the testing ground.  As my father Lal Din Sharaf’s diary records, it was a mammoth crowd, perhaps even bigger than the one I saw. They came on trains, buses, carts, bicycles, tongas and on foot from all over British India; from as far as Bengal, Bihar, Assam, Mysore, Junagadh, Kashmir, Gilgit, Karachi and Balochistan. A day later, the Lahore Resolution spitefully called the Pakistan Resolution was resolved. Seven years later Pakistan was carved out of India leading to the worst migration genocide of history. Many in those hapless caravans repeatedly attacked by activists of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and their ilk maimed and devoid of blood kept asking, ‘has Pakistan come?’ 

Seven years in 1940-1947 and 2011-2018 are similar. Some say it is the lucky number. To me it is an ordained miracle. Yes, Pakistan has come! 

At the park, the early birds poured and sank like a whirlpool around the historic minaret, colouring the huge public park with patches of red. Those who could not find space turned on their lap tops connected to flat screens and watched the hysteria on jam-packed roads. Shop keepers put their televisions on the roadside for public display. There was no show of desperation, anger and hate, rather a brightened landscape with a hope that the winds of positive change were not afar. Unlike a tsunami that wreaks destruction, this high tide was set to change the charred political landscape of Pakistan. Each one of them wanted to be counted, as Pakistan led by Imran Khan turned the corner. 

I wanted to have a drift of how it must have felt to my father; with the faith that I was to view a historic evening that would begin the process of reclaiming Jinnah’s Pakistan. I like many Pakistanis also had a score to settle. My father had died resisting the invasive forces that truncated Jinnah’s vision. I prayed that mine and younger generation would awaken one day to the reality of the dream. 

But the inevitable was denied by the invisible hands of political engineering. Back in 2013, PTI may not have emerged as the single largest party. But skewed elections awarded a sizable lead to PMLN that was to plunge Pakistan into serious political and economic crises. As moths ate the body from within, Imran Khan kept the dream and hope alive. 

And a dreamer he is. This is what dreamers are about. He pulls ideas from oblivion with a firm fate in surmounting impossibilities. The impulsiveness of nature, the eagerness of a doer and tenacity of a marathon runner is what distinguishes dreamers as an exclusive entity. His rallying points were hypothetical and scorned as comic. His waypoints were tediously marked during his long lonely journey; the yearn for impossible; to build courage when valour seemed to fail; to regain faith when despair abounded; and to create hope when it was forlorn. 

In 2018, the people of Pakistan have reasserted their fate in him. Imran is now the undisputed Khan having won his spurs from every nook and corner of Pakistan. It is now time for him to lead Pakistan through the parched land of immense promise. 

The dreamland is the biggest fertile valley of the world with world’s loftiest mountains, gushing streams and raging rivers. The parched land is hungry for water to fill granaries. The virgin high mountains are like a mother ready to suckle its children. The milk flows with precious metals, minerals, jewels, emeralds and energetic elixirs of life.  Beneath our inhospitable desert lie the world’s oldest civilizations, lost river beds, black gold and treasures.  The juggler artery is laden with gold, antimony, copper, emeralds and diamonds.  Thermal reservoirs and hydrocarbons remain untouched.  

There is a Moses for every Pharaoh. The Khan has arrived with his staff. He will devour every serpent and python that wrap around the treasures. He will remove the curse of Voodoo.

By the time this article is published, Imran Khan would have hopefully been elected as the prime minister of Pakistan. But this is also the point where similes with course of history must change. 

Soon after Qaid e Azams death, Muslim League was hijacked by turncoats who were never part of the journey. The dream went sour. Pakistan disintegrated. The hope of a new one died with Bhutto when he was let down by his own turncoats. Pakistan gradually became a neo imperialist colony. It became a rental state to chagrin of its own interests. The only home grown commodities were corruption, jobbery, nepotism and lust. 

Pakistan’s must follow the leader through the parched land and rainbows to the fountains of life. Pakistan must not be left waiting another multiple of seven. Imran Khan’s biggest test will be to fight and defeat these opportunist forces of greed, deceit, treachery and intrigue. His only option is but to seize the moment and who knows it better than him. 


The writer is a political economist and a television anchorperson