S. Tariq The city of my birth wore a hushed and expectant look that day, as if waiting for something momentous to happen and even my family, which is apolitical to the core, appeared excited. As I drove around the roads looking for a suitable plant nursery to complete my shopping list before returning to Islamabad, I saw families in cars and young men on motorbikes - some wielding red and green flags and others brandishing posters of our cricketing legend turned politician - all heading in the same direction. Unlike the participants of a previous political rally, who appeared to have been hustled into convoys of conscripted public transport, these were family units, who looked happy in converging on one of the most historical spots in our history - the place where our Founding Fathers under the leadership of Muhammad Ali Jinnah had presented and adopted the Pakistan Resolution in 1940. This then was Lahore, as it geared up for what was, perhaps, one of the biggest political events in our history - Imran Khan's public rally at Minar-i-Pakistan. I had a foretaste of how big this public meeting would be and how it would affect the mood of the people, when an evening before, my nephew, who is a LUMS graduate and shuns political activity, surprised me by announcing that he had decided to attend the event. Later in the evening, some young men from his alma mater generated more awe when they told me that students from this institution were attending the rally en masse. That night almost everyone I spoke to, appeared to be either preparing to sit before their 'tellys' to watch Khan Sahib speak or take the trip to the spot they had, perhaps, never even contemplated visiting in the past. It was, therefore, with a great amount of regret that I left Lahore and began my journey northward on the M2. The account that follows is based on what was narrated to me by my young relative mentioned in the previous paragraph, who drove from his house in DHA, parked his car at his in-law's house in Gulberg and accompanied by his cook took a rickshaw for the rally venue. In describing the event, I have deliberately left out the contents of what was said by the key speaker and have focused instead on the mood of the people, who flocked to catch a glimpse of him, hear his voice and go home with hope in their hearts. The area around the Pakistan Monument was an ocean of heads - heads of every age and gender with a preponderance of educated youth. There were families and unaccompanied females, but there was no harassment, no eve teasing, and no leering. The great difference between this crowd and the one that is usually seen at such events was the uncanny discipline and absence of cheap slogans - there was instead a seething enthusiasm and fervour visible on every face. A family standing nondescriptly amongst the crowd turned out to be the key speakers own kin, who had refreshingly refused a grandstand location close to the stage. And when the tall figure of the man from Mianwali took the rostrum, there was no bulletproof glass protecting him. I was witness to another show of Imran's supporters before the sit-in in front of Parliament. Driving home from Aabpara, I saw a long line of coasters and wagons, bedecked with flags drawn up on the left of the road. Already irked by such 'processions' and what they do to traffic, I muttered an oath and carried on. What I saw amazed me - the vehicles were carrying youth, many of them lugging laptops and a line of young men was courteously keeping the right lane open to traffic in one of the most disciplined displays of civic sense and discipline, witnessed in a political party's jaloos. I noticed another difference in this crowd - they were all happy in being there. As someone who has seen politicians and martial laws ruin this country, I can smell a change in the air - a change where the corrupt are likely to be brought to justice and liars made to stand up and receive what they deserve. Our two mainstream political parties sense this too and though unwilling to admit it, are deeply concerned about its consequences. For if such a change does come, it will sweep them into the darkest chapters of national history. For the people of this 'Land of the Pure', the event at Minar-i-Pakistan has brought hope, but it is hope that is plagued by the question if this is really salvation - at last? The writer is a freelance columnist.