Brigadier Samson Simon Sharaf (Retired)
Like an ocean moving inland with tremendous force and fury, they swept inland beyond imaginable expectations in waves of green and red Bumper to bumper, every road, bypass and short cut was crowded. I saw Fauzia Kasuri standing in a float with extra voluminous speakers chanting motivational themes leading the way from Gulberg. This was the same all over. These were the so called and satirically dubbed ‘the mummy daddy generation’ taking to roads in Land Cruisers, BMWs, Hondas, trolleys and rickety buses. They were flanked on the sides by motor cyclists, rickshaws and cyclists waving the red and green. Like a filled kaleidoscope, all roads choked with traffic and pedestrians led to Minar-e-Pakistan. The most heartening symbol was a ten year old boy doubling on a bicycle with a younger colleague all the way from Liberty to the venue. As he sweated and paddled the long distance, he added the icing to the day that was 30 October 2011.
Just as I was leaving, my two daughters and a nephew jumped into the car. I could not refuse them. These were youngsters who were hell bent on breaking the taboo; and change forever the complexion of what is described as Dirty Street Politics of Pakistan. The age of Pakistan’s nouvelle generation had arrived with a Big Bang. This sea of emotions wants a paradigm shift lest it becomes a destructive energy. It demands a new social contract as nothing will remain the same anymore.
At the park, the fortunate and early birds poured and sank like a whirlpool around the historic monument, colouring the huge public park green and red. Those who could not find space turned on their lap tops connected to flat screens and watched the hysteria on jam-packed roads. Shop keepers put their televisions on the roadside for public display. This was no show of desperation, anger and hate, rather a brightened landscape with a hope that the winds of positive change were not afar. Unlike a tsunami that wreaks destruction, this high tide is to set the stage to remove debris from Pakistan’s charred political landscape. Each one of them wanted to be counted as Pakistan led by Imran Khan was turning the corner.
Unlike the doom that surrounds the country with successive tragedies, the faces were lit brightly; reminiscent of a closely contested victorious cricket match with the captain going for the kill. They reflected the mood that Pakistan needed to move on and that, enough was enough. Amidst a depressing scenario underlined by a lack of national worth, as also true to his leadership traits, such were the rallying points built tediously in the past fifteen years by Imran Khan; to build courage when valour seems to fail; to regain faith when despair abounds; and to create hope when it is forlorn. Unlike Benazir Bhutto who had been blessed with a legacy, Imran was a silversmith who had to sit in vigil for a very long time.
It was in 1940 that Lal Din Sharaf, my father had recited a poem before the historic event under the leadership of Jinnah. In the interim Jinnah created a space called Pakistan which we denied him for the next sixty years. So instead of going on the stage and joining the leadership, I stood in the front ranks of the audience with my children. I wanted to have a drift of how it must have felt to my father; with the faith that I was to view a historic evening that would begin the process of reclaiming Jinnah’s Pakistan. I also had a score to settle because my father had died resisting the invasive forces that truncated this vision. This was my revenge.
That day, even the local police looked bigger than we normally see it. They were disciplined, diligent, kind and yet forceful. For sure the elixir had also invigorated their body language.
Pakistan over the past has had its share of leaders but none as unadulterated as Imran Khan. Dreamers are impulsive and sprint to every ray of hope. Yet in his long vigil, Khan learnt and applied correction courses. Certainly it needed much more than a self centred and attention seeking individual to roam the wild for over fifteen years and yet be as persevering and resilient as him. In the process he took flak from all directions but did not budge from his principled views. His family life became a victim of malicious and frivolous propaganda but failed to drop his gloves. His allies used him for his charisma and then discarded him. Beset with successive challenges, the fighter in him got sturdier and stronger. As an icon, he mentored a new generation of Pakistanis with pride, patriotism and self belief. He taught them how to face adversity and emerge stronger at successive impediments. Most he taught them how to conquer fear and utilise adrenaline induced emotional intelligence positively. Pakistan’s Khan has arrived with a vengeance of a striker playing within the rules of a game.
As I stood in military fashion to the National Anthem being played, the dam of emotions burst not only in me but in every Pakistani there. Everyone joined the choir with tears rolling down the cheeks like an oozing wound delivering elixir.
So what does this mean? Indeed it shifts a heavy responsibility on our shoulders to deliver and see the flock home. In the interim, we must win hearts and minds through our compassion, human values and neat political conduct. Each Pakistani is expected to become a building block of La Nouvelle Pakistan.
Brigadier Samson Simon Sharaf is a retired officer of Pakistan Army and a Political Economist.