Stories about rally

From a “political nobody who would never amount to much” to the prime minister of Pakistan

Twenty-two years ago, did I think this day would ever arrive? That in little more than 10 minutes, a visibly uncomfortable Imran Khan would fumble over difficult Urdu words and take the oath to become Pakistan’s 22nd prime minister? I wish I could say a resounding yes, but I, like so many of his supporters, have seen Imran rise and fall over the years (only to rise again) with exasperation. ‘Surely he will deliver once he reaches his goal’ is how we have comforted ourselves through the many stumbles, U-turns and compromises. Along the way, we have been called cult followers, ...

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Thank you, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari

I don’t know what others may say, but I support Bilawal Bhutto Zardari for taking a rally out on Sunday and paralysing Karachi. We don’t spend Sundays at home; we spend it on frivolous activities like going to the beach, eating out and spending a few thousand rupees on indigestible food in one of the many restaurants which have sprung up over the past few years.  This Sunday we stayed home and (besides saving a good amount of money), I found that my grandchildren have grown up without my noticing it. You see, every day they have already gone to school ...

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An open letter to anti-PTI trolls

Am I a member of a cult or some secret society? No. Have I recently been released from prison for murder? No. Then why do I have to cringe every time I show my support for the Azadi March and why am I made to feel like a deviant? If you follow your leanings and happen to side with the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), as an effort to get rid of this putrid system of government, get ready to be torn apart by a new breed of trolls. Our government and our systems have failed us. We have been disillusioned and indifferent for far too long. Now that ...

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What Imran Khan and the March 23 rally will bring us

The importance of the coming elections cannot be overstated. Pakistan today stands on the point of implosion and the kind of leadership that is elected to take the country forward could make or break it. My loyalties in this matter lie with the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf and I’m writing this to present my reasons for handing the party my vote and what I think you should expect tomorrow at Minar-e-Pakistan. Internal democracy. When a party is democratic then it is full of elected position holders. This means the leadership has integrity and mandate. More importantly it means they have more pressure to deliver ...

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Restored faith in Qadri

As I write this, Dr Tahirul Qadri is moving towards Islamabad with thousands of supporters. Nobody is certain about the fate of this much publicised and controversial political game. Commentators are busy analysing this sudden political gimmick and predicting various consequences of this development. Most major political parties are opposing the march. No one can deny the importance of public pressure over the ruling elite which can serve as an important corrective mechanism if exerted the right way. But the sudden emergence of Dr Qadri and the ambiguity of his ultimate agenda have raised many questions in the minds of people. At this ...

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Where labelling has taken us

I hate it when people become judgmental. More, so, when they pounce to those judgements listening to only a singular opinion of yours and conjecturing the rest. It has happened many a times. I criticise the Taliban – I’m an American lackey. I defend Taliban – I’m a fundo. Similarly, if I attack women for crying too much about nothing, I become a misogynist. If I defend them, there would certainly emerge at least one person who would label me a western agent. It is not so much about these arguments and them being right or wrong, but rather the fact that ...

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A grim reminder

People often ask me if it is too risky to be a reporter. “Not really”, I tell them, “but if you try to be too adventurous, you can get killed.” I didn’t think of reporting this way until I covered the massacre of May 12, 2007 — a day I will never forget for many reasons: bodies lying in pools of blood, ambulances transporting the wounded and dead, powerful display of firearms by political activists, no policemen for the rescue and escaping bullets. Had I not been adventurous, I would have missed out on what I now consider a lifetime ...

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PTI in Balochistan: Quetta loves Kaptaan

In this video, I explored the true sense of excitement that surrounded Imran Khan’s rally in Quetta. As one of the locals who attended the jalsa (rally) in person, I recorded scenes that show what this gathering means to the people of Balochistan. I interviewed men who travelled long distances to see their beloved leader, Imran Khan. The general sentiment around the rally reflected adoration, positivity and patriotism. One can gauge the amount of respect people in Balochistan have for Imran Khan by the fact that many people showed up to support him despite the flooded streets and traffic jams. “Rastay ...

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Is the Punjab government protecting Ludhianvi?

After decades of abuse over corruption, politicisation, complicity with criminals, outright disregard for their own duties, and their inexplicable fear of unarmed lynch mobs, the Punjab police showed that there is at least one group whom they don’t fear- their own- when they pointed their guns at the Islamabad police to protect a known hatemonger from arrest. Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat (read Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan) leader Muhammad Ahmed Ludhianvi, along with fellow extremist and Jamaatud Dawa (read Lashkar-e Taiba) chief Hafiz Saeed were wanted by the city police, for breaking a ban on their entry into the city, when both appeared ...

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Defy Pakistan: How the right-wing turned rogue

The Difa-e-Pakistan Council (DPC) is a tightly-held multi-party alliance of some 40 parties representing all shades of the country’s religious right-wing. It is led by veteran cleric Maulana Samiul Haq, who is popularly known as the father of the Taliban. The alliance is founded upon a single anti-US agenda, to drive out the Nato forces in the region and sprang up soon after Pak-US relations took a nosedive post the Salala bombing. After some low-key, closed door seminars on Pak-US relations, the alliance took to rallies, the first of which was staged at the Minar-i-Pakistan in Lahore. This rally was an ...

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