It was 30th of the August 2014, I was in my medical school, third year, on my way to Azadi March with a group of friends. We never supported Imran Khan. We thought he had no future. This Azadi March was just a joke. We had no faith into it. I believed that Imran Khan’s struggle had no meaning. Election 2013 was free and fair. This was just a gimmick to gather public attention. Imran Khan had announced to march into the PM Secretariat that day. As an avid fan of chaos, we thought we would get to feel some adventure, there would be some songs, some speeches and what we saw was something we could have never imagined in our lifetime.
As we started entering the D-Chowk, Imran Khan had just announced that all his followers would peacefully start marching towards the PM Secretariat. It is to be noted that PM Secretariat is just a 100m away from D-Chowk. Plan was to do a protest on the road in front of the PM Secretariat to send an even stronger message. As we started the march, chaos erupted. Police came from all sides. There was intense shelling, sounds of bullets fired from everywhere, what we found around us were little kids held by their mothers, people struggling to take just one breath and people lighting fires to save themselves from the expired tear gas shells. Police had covered us from all sides. There were at least five thousand people who could neither run nor rest. Police was arresting everyone. All ways were blocked. There was fire. There were sounds of people moaning. Little children were gasping for breath. Perhaps a moment where I felt it was the end of my life.
My First Meeting With Imran Khan
We saw the stage at that moment, there was a man standing firm, holding his ground, all his fellow leaders were saving their lives but that man stood tall. There were rumors that Police was asked to shoot him on sight but he stood on the top of his container. That man was the reason, every worker felt motivated and suffered the worst of Police brutality only to be able to catch a glimpse of him. That man was The Great Khan and this was the moment that I felt genuinely motivated to fight for a political cause in Pakistan. We had seen tragedies like the Model Town incident in Lahore where 14 people were brutally assassinated by the Police but the media cover up made us think it was their own fault. This was the moment when it dawned upon me and several others that something is terribly wrong with our governance and we need change.
Imran Khan won global fame when he won the world cup in 1992 but that was it. There was no history of anyone from sports or entertainment to enter power politics in Pakistan. When he started his political party on 25th April 1996, it was considered as a joke. People used to mock him. He was widely respected for building world class cancer hospitals like Shaukat Khanum and Universities like NUML in impoverished areas of Pakistan but no one could guess why was this man barging into politics! In Pakistan, people joined politics for fame but Imran Khan was already famous. Next thing was money, and money had never been an issue in Imran Khan’s life. There were moments like 1997 elections when Imran Khan ran for Member National Assembly elections in his hometown but lost, then in 2002 he went for the elections again but only succeeded in winning one seat. Situation seemed grim but hope was never lost. Imran Khan had never learnt the word Defeat.
During the Musharraf era, there was once a moment when the dictator asked Imran Khan to become the Prime Minister with his support. Imran Khan’s wish was to be granted at that moment had he said ,”Yes” but he refused and left. He wanted to be on the right side of history. He did not end up choosing a short cut. Then came the 2008 elections and Imran Khan boycotted them on principles once again. Pakistan Tehreek e Insaf was nowhere to be seen. A few remaining members of party were about to give up and switch like many others did before as well but Imran Khan remained determined. Then came 2013, Pakistanis were fed up of the two party system running since the past 2 decades, Imran Khan’s rallies had swollen massively. There was finally hope that his slogan of ,”Naya Pakistan” would succeed but he was made to lose again. Imran Khan had won one province but lost the other 3, his dream was shattered. It had been largely due to the deals between the two major parties of Pakistan, each supported the other one only to keep Imran Khan out. He stood up. He started Azadi March against alleged rigging. Ideally the opposition parties are supposed to stand with each other but in this case, the other opposition parties had joined hands with the ruling party once again. This built up a narrative of ,”Imran Khan vs All” that narrative was what began changing the minds of ordinary Pakistanis.
Though Azadi March failed to get it’s real objectives, every day Imran Khan kept speaking against the status quo. Khan being a true believer in the theory of repetition kept speaking those words again and again to make his message reach the audience that was not even familiar with him. He went to court for the judicial commission almost every day and ended up failing. The verdict was, There were discrepancies but there is no proof of ,”Systematic” rigging. Everyone in the party lost hope but Khan alone kept his chin up. Then a miracle happened and Panama scandal enveloped all elite of Pakistan. Khan announced a protest again. Police brutality started once more, 2016 ended up being a rough year for PTI workers. We were harassed, beaten, captured and arrested but it always had an ideology behind it, “We have to get rid of status quo”. Then the same old scenario of court hearings began but things changed. Nawaz Sharif, the 3rd time PM of Pakistan was finally disqualified for allegedly taking salary from his son while remaining as a PM. Popularity of Mr. Khan now touched new heights.
2018 elections came with new hope for Pakistan. Even in the scorching heat, Imran Khan used to give 4 speeches in 4 different cities every day. In the final 60 days of elections, there was not a single moment that he seemed to relaxed. His struggle is beyond comprehension and what he did what was impossible. A single man was able to break the two party system of Pakistan. He may have flaws but no one could ever question his dignity and perseverance. If there is one thing that we should learn from his struggle. It is to never lose hope even in worst of situations. Imran Khan set an example not just for Pakistan but for the world. If you have faith in yourself, no adversity can ever deter you from your mission. We hope he will bring an era of peace not just in Pakistan but in South Asia as well.