If Imran Khan and the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s (PTI) coming-out party was the rally in Lahore, the Christmas Day jalsa in Karachi was the coronation. In a city where few parties other than the MQM have been able to command mass appeal, Imran and his ever-burgeoning cast of characters seemed to have out done them all. Whatever reservations one has about the PTI’s agenda, one has to admire the verve of its supporters and the inclusiveness of its rhetoric. Speaker after speaker, including veteran politicians like Javed Hashmi and Shah Mehmood Qureshi, celebrated the virtues of diversity and pointed out that the crowd was made up of every possible ethnicity. Imran’s speech, in contrast to some of the more lacklustre ones he tends to deliver, struck all the right notes. His apology to the people of Balochistan was particularly heartfelt and, although other national politicians have made similar apologies before, it shows that at least the PTI feels the need to give priority to this issue. A speech at a massive rally is not the time for laying out a technocratic agenda but Imran’s promise that new inductee Jehangir Tareen would be producing policy papers on all issues at the rate of two per month is reassuring. We all know that the PTI as a party stands for change; now it is time to find out what that change will mean.
Successful though the rally may have been, there were some disturbing moments as well. Imran kept his anti-US rhetoric to a minimum but the speakers that preceded him did not show similar restraint. Javed Hashmi remarked on the preponderance of Aafia Siddiqui banners and proceeded to paint her as a martyr and demand her release. Hashmi may consider Aafia a daughter of Pakistan but had no words for Aasia Bibi — another Pakistani who is incarcerated, but this time in our own country. Azam Swati, meanwhile, launched a diatribe against Hussain Haqqani, a man who is no longer even in office, for his alleged role in memogate. As an opposition party, such irresponsible rhetoric can be crowd-pleasing but it will have to be tempered if the PTI comes into power. These complaints aside, one cannot be too churlish about the Imran Khan phenomenon. For the first time since Zufikar Ali Bhutto launched the PPP, a political leader is on a crusade to win over the entire country and not just one province. That vision and desire is to be celebrated.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 27th, 2011.
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Change is not COMING... It has Already COME....
go PTI...............the way forward! all my services for PTI cause, im a PTI jiyala from now on!
May Allah guide IK to the fulfilment of his promises. PTI zindabad
"For the first time since Zufikar Ali Bhutto launched the PPP, a political leader is on a crusade to win over the entire country and not just one province. That vision and desire is to be celebrated." Couldn't agree more! That jalsa was THE BEST experience of my life!
I totally agree about our alleged Qaum ki beti as well as Asiya bibi.
Thanks for the encouraging analysis. I agree that there needs to be a more integrated communication between PTI leadership. However, I think this is expected as of now because of influx of politicians from different parties and backgrounds; once party's structure, policies and approaches to problems are finalized after extensive internal discussion , this disconnect will be less pronounced.
Rumour has it that Obama is joining PTI in Quetta rally.