Tabdeeli aa gayee hai?: A new breed of activists fight for Karachi

Published: May 15, 2013
Protesters at the Native Jetty bridge shout slogans against rigging in NA-239. PHOTO: ATHAR KHAN/EXPRESS

Protesters at the Native Jetty bridge shout slogans against rigging in NA-239. PHOTO: ATHAR KHAN/EXPRESS

KARACHI: “Karachi kis ka hissa hai? Ye Pakistan ka hissa hai! [Karachi is a part of Pakistan]” Flags of Pakistan and the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and charged up chants of slogans greet the people arriving to join the dharnas which are being held daily.

Section 144 banning rallies and protests could not dissuade the citizens of Karachi who are making sure their voice is being heard across the country.

The first dharna at Teen Talwar saw a multitude of people, with a majority of what rival party leaders sarcastically called “Burgers” – a name often used to describe the residents of upscale areas. Yet, a closer look showed people representing less affluent areas, such as Hazara colony and inner areas of Gizri.

Day one of the dharna, held the very next day of the elections on May 12, was not only PTI’s, supporters of other political parties and an independent candidate Jibran Nasir also raised their voice against rigging. Supporters of Imran Khan’s party, who were still reeling with disbelief that the tsunami only reached Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, started by chanting slogans of Naya Pakistan.

By late hours and after Altaf Hussain’s speech, however, the dynamics began changing. The protest slogans became more streamlined, talking specifically about rigging. People kept pouring in till almost midnight – even families – despite the threats that came in the form of aerial firing.

The spirits soar higher

The second dharna saw more flags of Pakistan than the day before and the slogans were no longer only of PTI. In a festive environment, the crowd was defiant.

Interestingly, at Shahrae-e-Faisal, apart from the representatives of NA-250, many people from other parts of the city were also seen, including Urdu-speaking residents who are typically assumed to be supporters of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement. “My name is Hina Ansar.

Please give my real name in your story. I really don’t care,” said a lady at the dharna, who kept calling her sister in Gulshan to tell her where to reach. “Our entire family voted for PTI.

I was not allowed to vote initially because they knew who I was voting for. Why should I keep quiet? Where is my vote?”

A few yards away, Dr Arif Alvi and other PTI representatives sat in the middle of the road that is Karachi’s spine.

More than a constituency

While the infamous and problematic constituency of NA-250 brought people out of their homes, this wave of activism has spread across the city, fuelled by news of similar activism in Lahore -only section 144 hasn’t been imposed in Lahore as yet and over there it is primarily an anti-rigging agenda. In comparision, the dharnas in Karachi seem a catharsis of sorts – against what citizens believe is a violation of their mandate.

Altaf Hussain’s words brought out a sense of ownership among the usually complacent and almost desensitised Karachiites. A large numbers of women, children and youth have been seen at these protests signal of a change in this perilous city.

“There is no doubt that MQM has built the flyovers in the city and carried out development projects – I have been an MQM supporter for years,” said Zaheer Zaidi, a protester. “But we have not forgotten the incidences of shutter-down strikes, unrest and killings. I am here because I am afraid no more.”

Published in The Express Tribune, May 15th, 2013.

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Reader Comments (22)

  • ashar
    May 15, 2013 - 1:11AM

    This is not the new breed, this is the next generation simply.


  • K Khan
    May 15, 2013 - 1:20AM

    A new city awakens, people have finally started to shed their fears and stand together, united by their desire to improve their country. This is what the status quo is scared of.


  • Max
    May 15, 2013 - 1:50AM

    Finally people are standing up for their rights. Thank you IK.


  • Max
    May 15, 2013 - 1:50AM

    Finally people are standing up for their rights. Thank you IK.


  • Mohajirlover
    May 15, 2013 - 2:42AM

    It is a call for all Mohajirs to get out of stranglehold of vote riggers. They not only rigged votes but also your future. Assert yourself. There is no peace in this city. At least, respect your own vote and your own voice. Let your conscience decide what is good for you and your families.Recommend

  • SKHN
    May 15, 2013 - 4:13AM

    This is an awakening of the citizens of Karachi because, they just had it enough**
    Mostly the rich can survive through the continous strikes and Shutter-downs but what about the poor??? I really salute these so called “Burgers” of this city for coming out to protest against the “Na Maloom Afraad” and also appreciate that they stood up by all factions of our beloved city. Welcome to “NAYA PAKISTAN” you all !!!!!
    Hats off to DHA!!!!!!
    May God be with ya!!!!


  • absurdity
    May 15, 2013 - 4:38AM

    The new breed is not entirely new nor the future generation. It includes votes/members from JI, forming a surprising mix of upper middle class and fundamentalists.

    The real stance for the newly crowned “champion of Karachi” by facebookers should be against the recent increase in the load shedding by KESC due to the default of the federal government. PMLN has indirectly given its first gift to Karachi. PTI should do dharna against that too…just putting in my two cents.


  • Fawad
    May 15, 2013 - 6:59AM

    We are not “Mohajirs” anymore… We are Pakistanis first and foremost! Let this be a message to the all gun-totting ethnic based political parties in Karachi. They should respect the will of the people and mend their ways, otherwise they will lose more and more relevance everyday from now onwards


  • Anam
    May 15, 2013 - 10:01AM

    Thanks ET for showing only one side of the story. where are the pictures of mqm’s dharnas?


  • Realist
    May 15, 2013 - 11:04AM

    They are wasting their time. Wait till gun politics is unleashed with full force on these idealists. They could not even stop the rigging. I doubt they can stop it again in re-election. The rangers and police did not do anything the first time. What makes them think they will do their job in re-election?


  • kashif
    May 15, 2013 - 11:10AM

    I am proud to be a supporter of PTI. Thankyou PTIans of Karachi. You have made me proud.


  • Pakistani
    May 15, 2013 - 11:42AM

    Me, my family and friends voted for PTI.. where are our votes!
    God Bless IK and the team of PTI..
    Best wishes are with you!!!


  • Muhammad Rizwan Ali
    May 15, 2013 - 11:50AM

    very strange, ET only showing the strenght of 10%
    remaining people strenght, why not mention?


  • mohammad
    May 15, 2013 - 12:12PM

    no body can hijack the city. KARACHI IS PAKISTAN AND PAKISTAN IS KARACHI. There should be no difference between a sindhi or a pakhtun or a mohajir. these borders are drawn by our enemies(probably india). we will defeat our enemies as UNITED WE STAND. we must ask ourselves ” i am a mohajir or sindhi or punjabi but why not try for development of whole PAKISTAN AS A UNIT”. MY IDENTITY IS ISLAM AND PAKISTAN.


  • Saad
    May 15, 2013 - 12:48PM

    Karachi always leads the nation… Even though we are protesting to get our constitutional right to fair re-elections, the people in Lahore and other constituencies where rigging took place should not hold back! But participate wholeheartedly in making sure their rights are not taken away!Recommend

  • Muhajir insafian
    May 15, 2013 - 1:39PM

    Only PTI can bring peace in Karachi as it represents people from every community and sect..!


  • Dilip
    May 15, 2013 - 2:21PM

    Wake up guys. The polls tell us a story. The voting was pure ethnic based. It is time ethnicity be converted to one and all being PAKISTANI.


  • Hassan Ahmed Jawwad
    May 15, 2013 - 2:58PM

    Me and my whole family voted for PTI.
    And I am not a BURGER, I am a BUNKABAB and a huge number of BUNKABABs like me have voted for PTI


  • May 15, 2013 - 3:39PM

    A clear wake-up call for all the self-appointed custodians of Karachi

    The truth is getting clearer by the second……..


  • karachi Hite
    May 15, 2013 - 3:47PM

    well let see what PTI Will Deliver in KPK because now PTI have Mandate in KPK by the name of Naya Pakistan ,oK MQM Rigged elections in Karachi as you Said But What Happened with Tsunami In Lahore & Balochistan be Realistic PTI Have Spent 4 Billion For their Election campaign in Different Channels But Still unable to Dent MQM vote bank oh sorry Monopoly as you said , And
    NA 250 is not only DHA Based Constituency Bazata line ,Dehli Colony, Gizri & many lower middle Class people also living there, let see on 19th May who will win the NA 250 either naya pakistan or Karachi hite who always Supports Khushbakht Shujat & MQM not because of their ethnicity but for their sacrifice & Mustafa Kamal Contribution for The City since beginning . whole Pakistan are not using social media majority have still not enough money to buy computers for their children So don’t Judge Pakistan through social media my Dear Fellows , Karachi dynamics Are different from your Thoughts i congratulate Mr. Imran khan For his efforts to Become a second largest party in Karachi & 3rd largest party of Pakistan but still there is long way to go For Naya Pakistan


  • Citizen
    May 15, 2013 - 11:44PM

    I could have understood this if it was an opinion piece or a blog but this story is obviously biased and one sided and displays a lack of proportion. ET can certainly do with better editorial skills.


  • adil
    May 20, 2013 - 7:32PM

    @karachi Hite:
    Sir,insaf won NA 250,we pti supporters challange MQM to come and do a re election in whole karachi under the supervision of ARMY in the polling centers,then you will see the fair results.i being PTI supporter still believe that MQM is the biggest party at karachi,but please also accept our MANDATE too.We never blame your leader First,its Altaf bhai who Finger First then change his Statements.MQM,PPP,PML.PTI and ANP all are pakistani people but fallow the vision of there leader,its doesnt mean that we hate each other.So brother it is my personal advise your leader think twice before he SPEAKS.thxs,regards.


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