Nine-year-old Muhammad Ali Raza has been whipping up emotions at the Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) camp with his stirring speeches since the Inqilab March began.
After two-and-a-half weeks in the capital, the youngster is still admired for his passion and ability to motivate large crowds with his loud and thrilling voice while delivering fiery inspirational speeches.
A confident and charged Raza has delivered a number of speeches to keep spirits high at the PAT camp since August 7, when he along with his parents and two brothers – Ahmed Ali Raza, 11, and Ali Husnain Raza, 8, – joined the PAT rally in Lahore.
In one such speech at Secretariat Chowk, while sitting on the shoulders of a young PAT worker, Raza was able to gather crowd within no time. What followed left people wondering how a child was making a way into people’s heart by carefully choosing his words and sentences as he delivered a speech mainly comprised of poems and prose on the hottest topic of the day, week and month: revolution.
For many listeners, though his dressing was not similar to their firebrand leader, Dr Tahirul Qadri, his voice had the same effect relatively which led many to believe that he would be a ‘soul-stirring’ speaker in the days to come. Raza, however, begged to differ with people’s assertions.
“No one can be like Quaid-e-Mohtaram (Qadri). How can I be like him,” said Raza. “He is a man of his own stature.”
Raza, a third grade student at Aghosh School, said he learnt the art of delivering speeches from his father, Mushtaq Ahmed, and the rest of the training was being given to him by Dr Tahirul Qadri’s sons.
“He is always eager to express his emotions,” said Ahmed, his father. “He practices very hard and I’m the one who has to listen to every speech of his before it’s delivered in public.” Ahmed said he has long given his sons under the supervision of Qadri’s sons for their grooming. Ahmed, a textile worker, said though there were monetary issues the family was adamant to support the party through thick and thin.
When asked where he understands what he delivers in public, Raza humbly said he prepares before delivering a speech and learns the meanings of the difficult words while learning the speech by heart.
Answering what Inqilabs means to him, Raza said getting rid of the ‘corrupt system’ and enforcement of a system which guarantees everyone’s rights regardless of their social status was revolution for him. “Our Quaid-e-Mohtaram has given a complete plan for changing the system. That’s what we want and that’s what I want,” said Raza.
Raza said they live in a rented house and when the revolution comes they, along with others, would have ‘roti, kapra and makan’.
When asked about his views over the merging of the two rallies, Raza said both PTI and PAT would work together as the Quaid has declared the attendees of the rallies as ‘Siyasi Cousins.’
Meanwhile, Raza refused to take money from a man who was impressed by his fiery speech. “My Quaid has strictly ordered not to take money for my speeches,” he said. When the elderly man insisted, he asked him to give the money to a young rag picker standing nearby.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 3rd, 2014.
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