Tens of thousands of people converged on Minar-e-Pakistan on Saturday in an event billed to be the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan’s ‘final coming’ in his bid to become the next prime minister of the country.
Be that as it may, heavy rain accompanied by strong winds in Lahore dampened Imran’s ‘tsunami’ with the public address system failing before he could unveil his party’s manifesto at the election rally.
The weather may have cut short Imran’s speech, but it didn’t hold back an enthusiastic crowd, which waved party’s flags to make a sea of green and red, and the party chief himself, who made six promises to the nation.
Imran, who chose the venue of Saturday’s rally for being the site where Indian Muslims first made their official demand for a separate homeland, pledged in his speech to always “speak the truth with the nation”.
He went on to assure that he would wage a ‘jihad’ against oppression and side with the oppressed, including women and minorities, if he came to power.
“I will establish the supremacy of law, I will not have property or bank accounts abroad,” he said, alluding to accusations of corruption against politicians.
“It is my promise to you that I will not misuse power or indulge in nepotism and I will protect taxpayers’ money,” Imran said, while making his four and fifth promises.
As his final pledge, the PTI chief assured that his party would stand with overseas Pakistanis and protect their rights.
Imran also went on to demand an undertaking from his supporters.
“The nation should become my strength to remove injustice from the society,” said Imran, adding that every person in the country had to volunteer in PTI’s revolution to ensure its success.
Meanwhile, PTI leader Shah Mehmood Qureshi, who defected to PTI from the ruling party PPP, said the manifesto would be formally announced at a press conference “over the next few days”.
According to the agencies figures, the numbers on Saturday fell short of an estimated 150,000. Imran drew crowds of around 200,000 at an enormous rally in Lahore in October 2011, kickstarting what he has called a “tsunami”.
On the other hand, DIG Operations Tahir Rai said around 70,000 people attended Saturday’s rally, including office bearers elected in recent intra-party elections across the country. He went on to add that the gathering was dealt a premature ending due to the weather conditions.
PTI live-streamed the rally on the Internet, a medium that the party has tapped into heavily through social networking sites Facebook and Twitter. Young men and women, his core support base, dominated the crowd, wearing “Imran Khan” and “Revolution” T-shirts, and caps in the party colour.
“We want change,” said Abdul Rehman, who travelled Peshawar.
“We are fed up with the old faces. They are the symbol of the status quo. We want to bring new faces and Imran Khan should come to power now,” said another young man from Gujrat.
Authorities had beefed up security for the rally and diverted traffic. They also shut mobile phone networks at the venue and immediate surrounding area as a precaution to guard against bombs, some of which are detonated by telephones.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 24th, 2013.