Imran’s faith in destiny
A second demonstration, far more weighty and convincing, came at the Quaid’s mazar in Karachi. The Tehreek-e-Insaf rally of December 25, was a roaring success. It was beyond any shadow of doubt, was the biggest ever gathering by any other political leader or organization in the country’s megapolis. Perhaps a comparison with the MQM performances could be only exception. The spontaneous message of felicitation from Altaf Hussain, was an instant recognition of that.
Whether it would really prove a ‘tsunami’, would depend principally on perseverance which the cricketer-turned politician doesn’t seem to lack. He has, In fact, been blessed with this inherent quality. An incident , narrated to a select audience at a private meeting by ex-President General Musharraf, a couple of months after his exit, must me mentioned here. Musharraf said he offered Imran to contest the 2002 elections, promising him 9 or 10 National Assembly seats, on which he could build a launching pad for his future ambitions. But Imran, relying on a “youth swell” , turned down the offer. His response at that particular moment, may have been disappointing, or perhaps look silly, but time proved him right. He remained steadfast to his search for a new leadership, has to struggle hard for it, could have been dismayed too at times, but now look well set on the road to success.
The tone set by the Lahore rally of Oct 30, and consolidated at the Mazar-e-Quaid on the latter’s birth anniversary, was bound to upset the apple cart of his opponents, and it indeed has. Whatever the PPP or the PML(N) leadership may say, the fact that shiver waves are now clearly visible in their camps, has indisputably been acknowledged by independent analysts. The exit of Shah Mahmood Qureshi and Makhdoom Javed Hashmi from PPP and PML(N) ranks, has been a real setback for Nawaz and Zardari. This could easily be proven by Nawaz’s dash to Peshawar to stop a stalwart like Saranjam Khan from deserting his party, backfired. The well known politician from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, walked out of a meeting chaired by Nawaz the very next morning of his meeting with the PML(N) chief. Sardar Assef Ahmad Ali spearheaded a beeline of those ready to jump on Imran’s bandwagon, and in Karachi where he stayed for four days for the second part of his “tsunami” movement, the leading lights of the city’s business elite had an intimate discussion with him. These were the people who had collected around the Sindh governor for years together, and had also been attending MQM meetings. But their meeting with Imran must be seen in the context of the general behaviour of such vested interests. They would flow like water towards a decline. They don’t have any sympathy or commitment with any particular party or organization. The Godfather of the Punjabi businessmen in Karachi, Tariq Sayeed, backed Musharraf, praised Zia, and now was in forefront of leaders for a session with Imran.
Yet another glaring example of the panic in PPP camp was available by the presence of Aitzaz Ahsan at Zardari’s address in Garhi Khuda Bakhsh anniversary of Benazir Bhutto’s assassination on 27 December. Aitzaz, a central leader of the PPP, an important member of the party’s central executive, was sidelined for 4 years—from 2008 when the PPP came to power for the 4th time, till this week. He did have a couple of meetings with Zardari during this period, but refused to be lured by an organization which had deviated from his basic principles after Benazir’s exit from the scene. Aitzaz was called to the dias and asked to address after the speech of the PPP Co-chairperson. It normally does not happen, but there was nothing wrong in that either. Aitzaz was late in reaching the venue because of traffic jams, but the fact he was called back, showed that Zardari, considering himself an unchallenged king all these years, has now been forced to recall old associates for help.
The Karachi meeting of Imran could be remembered for long for a number of reasons. First he set a new record of collecting people, of all ages, genders, ethnic groups, and of all classes and segments of the society. There were affluent people from the posh areas of Defence, and Clifton residential areas, and from all over Karachi and outside localities and towns like Thatta, Sukkur, and even DG Khan. But primarily it was a Karachi crowd. The response was tremendous, and the rapport between Imran and the fan club, was tremendous. It was a rally, charged and emotions, proving that Imran had shown to the youngsters, forming the backbone of his party, a ray of hope for the future. Also among the old, he has developed a liking for his qualities and abilities to serve. A swerve in political trend is now clearly foreseen with his recent successes.
As for its effect on MQM, which has already set a record in Indo-Pak history of successive victories, would be minimum. MQM had its committed voters, and except for a couple of constituencies, MQM would remain unaffected in the coming elections, whenever they are held. Earlier, I predicted that MQM and Tehreek-e-Insaf may fall in line. Their record and programmes are similar, and both want to rid the country of the rotten leadership. The prediction may not be wrong.