I am deviating from the customary thread of Sunday’s column, because it will be a futile exercise to detach myself from on-going events. Millions living in the ‘Land of the Pure’ as well as Pakistanis living abroad, have been engulfed in a wave of euphoria mixed with the resolve to make a new beginning. A revival of Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s vision or as someone put it, “a second Independence Day” under a leader, whose twenty two years of unrelenting struggle has finally borne fruit. I am humbled, grateful and unbelievably relieved to watch a nation which, in my opinion, had ‘lost it’, rise up from the abyss and boldly opt for change, driven by a single thought – “Enough!”
On a personal level, it all began, when I walked into the designated polling station, preceded by a frail old lady on a wheel chair. I had minutes before, while parking my car, overheard her conversing with the young man now pushing the chair, deducing that the two were grandmother and grandson. It was evident that the lady had come out to vote for the very first time and was impatient to do so, since she was scolding her escort for being tardy in getting her out of the car and into the chair. My offer to help was politely brushed aside with the words “Voting for Pakistan is something that I want to do without assistance”. I have no idea as to the identity of the lady, but thanks to her, I realized that it was people like her that made the Pakistani nation indomitable.
A night later, I saw and heard the Prime Minister-in-Waiting speak to the nation on television. There was no indecent haste to make the speech unlike 2013, when the Sharifs announced a victory many hours before the final results began to arrive. There were no gilded chairs nor fanfare as Imran Khan opened his heart to the nation without a script or notes, lucidly and comprehensively summing up his domestic and foreign policy in just thirty minutes of pure passion. It was without an iota of doubt, one of the most stirring and dignified speeches I had ever heard. That night the cricketing Khan must have stolen millions of additional hearts.
With results pouring in and defeat imminent, the losing parties consisting of the PML N, PPP and the Far Right began to show their true character. Unable to digest reality and shock, their leadership refused to accept political demise, raising fingers at the transparency of the outcome, a charge speedily destroyed by reports of foreign observers, who termed the election as free and fair. A hastily called All Parties Conference by this group was marred by dissent and absenteeism. It was ironic that this entire activity was led by those, who had barely managed to get a foothold in the Assemblies. As time went by, I began to realize the true proportion of what had happened – Pakistan had perhaps been saved.
The PTI victory must be celebrated with the sobering realization that party legislators and would be ministers, have set very high bench marks for themselves through pre-election rhetoric. The nation too, must realize that seventy years of rot cannot be cleaned in five years. History, which is the biggest source of lessons, teaches us that high expectations are always double edged. In simple words, PTI will now have to deliver in their five year tenure or face the wrath of the people. This delivery will have to rise above personal and political relationships. It will have to rise above friendships and promises. Above all, some trickle down effects must manifest themselves as speedily as possible within Khan Sahib’s tenure and in the least, a direction irrevocably set towards rebuilding Pakistan and reshaping our national character. This will be easier said than done, but knowing the Prime Minister Elect’s nature, it can be accomplished.
So, we shall wait for the day when a new leader takes oath to defend and uphold our national honor, to provide us with merit based speedy justice and eases the burden of daily existence for those, who have suffered countless lies and false promises. In other words, while dawn has indeed come, we are waiting for the sun to rise.
The writer is a historian.