The prayers of thousands of people were finally answered as the government and Minhajul Quran International (MQI) reached an agreement on Thursday night.
Overcast skies did little to dampen the spirits of a family camped at the Jinnah Avenue sit-in to show solidarity with MQI leader Tahir Qadri.
Led by curiosity of the promised “change” that the long march might bring to their lives, Mohammad Shareef had high expectations since the beginning. He also managed to rope in his sister Zara Batool and her husband Mohammad Afzal to come with their little daughters from Mandi Bahauddin.
Shareef has been a supporter of MQI for seven years. However, his sister and brother-in-law have joined in only recently. “We came along upon his insistence to participate in the cause but having heard the MQI leader’s speech, we now intend on staying for good,” said Zara.
Shareef and Afzal work together as labourers in their village, often juggling odd carpentry jobs. They earn as much as Rs10,000 on a good month. With his participation at the sit-in, Shareef foresees improved living standards for his family.
“We toiled for five years, hoping for this government to turn things around. My children would come home from school to no electricity, no matter how much I earned, the prices would only escalate, thanks to this corrupt government,” lamented Shareef. With five mouths to feed on his own, Shareef left his sick wife and children behind.
His introduction to Qadri came in the form of a compact disc (CD) comprising sermons that drew Shareef in. “I was going through a tough phase in my life when I came across his CD. Hearing his sermon gave me peace and I became an MQI member.”
There seems no turning back for the family that has travelled on trolleys and tractors after their wagons and buses were stopped along the way. Making do with limited ration, they refuse to stand in the long queue for food. “We do not need charity, we may be poor but are upright citizens of the county. I sit here today because if things don’t change, the state would eat up my children’s rights tomorrow,” said Shareef, with a finality in his tone.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 18th, 2013.
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