Muhammad Azam |
Bumper to bumper traffic stretched as far as the eye could see on the Islamabad Expressway. I made my way through the throng of people, motorcycles, and cars which were swarming in front of the entrance of the parade ground. The anticipation of the people, who had come from all across Pakistan, was palpable in the air.
We saw people from all walks of life; laborers, groups of students, families, all sporadically bursting into chants of “Go Nawaz Go”.
A group of vendors was selling an assortment of PTI memorabilia, snacks, and overpriced water bottles. Every face was lit up with excitement. It was a remarkably festive atmosphere despite the chaos and confusion. As we got closer to the stage, the crowd started to thicken and I saw people from all walks of life; laborers, groups of students, families, all sporadically bursting into chants of “Go Nawaz Go”.
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There was a palpable tension in the air. There was a determination that could be felt when walking around and observing the individuals that made up the crowd.
It is assumed by most people, who have never attended such rallies, that the crowd is quite rowdy, however, the reality is to the contrary. Most of the crowd was markedly civil.
It was apparent that people were not there to make trouble rather, they had a singular purpose: they had come to listen to Imran Khan and show their support for his cause. At any given time there were around 15 to 20 thousand people present at the parade ground. The event organizers employed different methods to entertain them, from riling up the crowd with “Go Nawaz Go” chants to live music performed by Salman Khan, it was a well-orchestrated and well-executed event.
There was one distinguishing aspect of this jalsa that stood out from Imran’s previous Dharna. There was a palpable tension in the air. There was a determination that change could happen if asked and fought for – the energy could be felt when walking around and observing the individuals that made up the crowd. I even saw wheelchair bound elders, visibly uncomfortable in the dense crowd, but nevertheless present to show their support for Khan. This is the fruit of Imran’s awareness campaign to which he has dedicated two decades of his life and especially the past 1 year over the Panama leaks specifically.
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Chances of the Nawaz establishment surviving this movement are becoming slimmer with each passing day. Change is in the air.