When Imran fell, Pakistan rose

Published: May 8, 2013
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Something strange happened when Imran Khan fell off the forklift during his rally yesterday. Not only was I concerned for his safety, but I stopped in my tracks at the realisation of the fact that we cannot lose a leader like him.

He is an upcoming leader who paved his way in to the broken hearts of millions. With or without Khan, people have decided to vote and demand for a new system, a new dream and a new risk.

It was as if everyone felt what I felt as tweets, statuses, and love poured in from all corners of the country. It was a good feeling to see that we all prayed for something together, other than the results of a Pakistan-India cricket match.

The feeling of unity, all for one man, is something we have not oft experienced before. It did not matter whether you supported him or not, you knew he worked hard and something kept pinching your heart till you knew he was out of danger.

Nawaz Sharif began his address at Liaqat Bagh with prayers for Khan, Rehman Malik prayed for his safety via twitter and Sheikh Rasheed announced that all corner meetings were cancelled.

That is just what a true leader should invoke in the hearts of people.

His address from the hospital bed cannot be brushed aside as a pre-polls political tactic. It was heartfelt and you could not only see but feel his pain while sitting far away. His injuries cannot be taken lightly either as doctors have advised one week’s rest for the Captain of Hope.

In pain yet beaming with passion, he uttered the following words through his video message,

“This is not my war; this is your war for your country.”

For most of us who have not gotten out of our houses to change our country, words from a man who has spent the last 17 years fighting his way to a bigger idea hold immense value. It is our war now.

I had the chance to have a brief candid conversation with the man in the spotlight while he was in Karachi for a quick stop to pay respect at the Mazar-e-Quaid before travelling to Lahore for his rally.

Clad in a crisp navy-blue shalwar kameez and gelled back hair, Khan eased in to the conversation without any hesitation. There was nothing VIP about him, just pure polish and charisma. It did not matter that there was a long line of people waiting to speak to the man in demand; it also did not matter for the moment that he had to pack-up for yet another destination- it was important to answer the question that was waiting for him first.

With elections around the corner and hopes of victory peaking to the skies, Khan still had no prenotion about a change in his life post-winning.

He said,

“There is a saying that goes, you cross the bridge when you come to it. Your mission changes you and you change according to your mission. I had not asked a soul for money in my life but when Shaukar Khanum was being built, I went in to the streets asking for money.”

Khan feels that you have to achieve your goals, regardless of how it changes your life.

“Whatever it takes you have to achieve it” he said.

For a man who is holding the dreams of millions in a glass bowl, Khan could have said something flamboyant and enticing yet he keeps practicality and logic in near sight.

His reaction post his fall is no surprise to me, Khan reacted just as casually when I asked him of his health regarding reports of nearly fainting at a rally in Faisalabad due to exhaustion.

 “It’s all misinformation when the media claims I am not well. Sure it is hot, but I am absolutely fine”, Khan smiled and casually continued to pack for his next destination.

As perhaps one of the hardest working candidates this election, Khan manages anywhere up to four jalsas in a day. With the elections less than a week away, a typical day during campaigning would entail up to 16 hours of work compared to only five hours of sleep a night.

“These days, it’s a lot work.” he said with a fervour that did not match the fatigue of his words.

It cannot be denied that Imran Khan’s biggest fans remain the younger citizens of Pakistan. Perhaps it is because Khan was the first to realise the potential of the youth and considered them important enough to play a positive role in the future of Pakistan.

He continues to recognise the significance of the youth in his movement as he imparted wisdom their way by saying,

 “Chase your dreams and live by your passions. Whatever can be envisioned is possible.”

Being a passionate person himself when he was younger, Khan says he was already chasing his dreams in his early 20s.

His passion rung out of every word he spoke, “You only lose when you give up.”

The crowd waited patiently for him as he spared time to share his views about the country, the youth and his plans. Addressing rumours of a possible coalition with PML-N or PPP if in power, he shook his head strongly before the question could be completed.

 “No, absolutely not. There is no question of a coalition with any of the existing status-quo parties.”

The man is unstoppable and dedicated in his passion with hopes to chase the bad away from Pakistan as his next dream.  Though Khan did not have an exact number of seats in mind, he thinks his party will win a clear majority.

“I say that because the people of this country have decided what they want” Khan said confidently, with the sound of a final zip on his hand-carry in the background.

Khan parted with his signature confidence and charm, giving no hints of pressure on his mind. With near super-hero status, he has to fulfil the expectations of a band of supporters from the six-year-olds to the 60-year-olds.

A Naya Pakistan is the last hope for many and eyes will remain on him till the polls can decide the fate of Pakistan.

Read more by Manahyl here or follow her on Twitter @mintsnk

Manahyl Khan

Manahyl Khan

A sub-editor on the Magazine desk of The Express Tribune. She tweets @manahylk (twitter.com/manahylk)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.