Hamid Mir’s Column- Imran Khan’s First Dharna- Translation

Imran Khan, you are making a mistake. Imran Khan there is danger and fear upon these streets of Peshawar. Imran Khan, in Peshawar you  can’t even gather 200 people…..Imran Khan please listen……..Imran Khan you are making a blunder as the  voices flowed in from all quarters, near and far…

All tactics were highlighted to put fear into Imran Khan regarding the Dharna (sit in). In Peshawar the concept of Dharna is dangerous and risky. Every day in Peshawar, there are bomb blasts and because of city’s worsening situation, the culture of organising protests and jalsas are no longer in vogue. The advice flowed in; instead of having a sit in on the road it is better to address the workers, in a hotel in Peshawar. But Imran Khan remained undeterred. A day before the Dharna, advice flowed from many friends to Imran Khan that “go ahead with the Dharna but please make sure there is enough security as well”. Imran Khan smiled and said “All is with Allah and He Knows best”. And finally the day came; 23rd April. He had e achieved which no other politician in Pakistan had ever done before.

As he entered into Peshawar the tail end of the procession was still in Nowsherra as people flocked together in the form of procession. The 20km long line of procession constituted all- in thousands, huddled together, men and women, young and old, in presence to raise their voices against Drone Attacks in Peshawar. The history was in its making. All these thousands were warned by their loved ones, near and far that anything can happen as Peshawar is volatile and engrossed in violence. Don’t go to Peshawar- Imran Khan is mad and don’t become part of his madness. What will happen if there is an explosion?

But why did these people leave behind the comfort of their homes and the advice of the loved ones. The answer was simple and common. Imran Khan had left his home as well and he was there with them. Imran Khan knew that he will not be able to stop the drone attacks with this protest and sit in but he wanted to dispel that sense of fear and decadence in the city of Peshawar. He wanted to give hope to those thousands who were with him and those who could not come; someone is there with them in these hours of pain and grief, without any security, bullet proof jackets and cars. He was there with them in t flesh and blood as they were. He wanted to sit with them and feel that anguish and pain through the night and days for next 48 hours.

All those critics who feverishly complained and bitterly stated that it was the establishment, the military and the army who had  brought him and supported for this sit in to add another dimension to political play and tactics. But I wish they had heard him in Peshawar. Not only did he criticise Americans for their policy of drone attacks but also the army as well for their continued attacks and killings of innocent civilians. Not only were there- , the tribals who had lost their loved ones, but people from all places, from Bajur, Orakzai, Mohmand agency and more- the young and old tribals who bitterly complained about the Army and the situation they faced.  People from North Waziristan complained heavily that in all these years they have yet to discover and to see any dead bodies of Taliban and Al-Qaeda leaders over there.

In each of these drone attacks scores of women and children and young are killed but in papers we see Al-Qaida and Taliban deaths. This old man from North Waziristan mentioned the Army and Americans are all in this together- they criticise each other in public and yet they are all working together in pursuit of this policy of terror and mayhem in the form of drone attacks. They all are tied with each other and the money that flows. The old man shouted the only hope is Imran Khan and if Imran Khan could not get these drone attacks to end, then he and his tribals will declare Jihad  on the Army and this time not in Waziristan but in Lahore and Rawalpindi.

The significance of these two days was not simply how many turned up but the manner and the courage they displayed to attend this sit in from all corners and to spend those 48 hours amidst fear and chaos with their leader, in the open skies of Peshawar. It was a spectacle not to be missed to see their leader amongst them on these streets of Peshawar.

These young people and workers may not have the experience of coordination but their emotion brunt with fervour and their hearts filled with this light and peace that finally they can together get rid of this fear, this fear of death and hopelessness together with their leader.

Also present in this procession, an old woman from Lahore. She was 10 years old when Pakistan came into being and her family had sacrificed a lot. And today again this country is being destroyed and I come here to offer my presence and support for this man, Imran Khan. Another woman, in Burqa from Swat with her eight year old son. She asked me about people involved in Mukhtara’s Mai case and how they got away   as there was not enough evidence provided to the court. The women involved in NGOs started to protest. But why don’t these NGOs protest and raise their voices when innocent children are butchered to death in drone attacks? Why don’t their conscience gets stirred by those images of horror and mayhem?

And another significant change I noticed that every single person was at the height of their political awareness. And the whole procession went wild when Imran Khan mentioned that if someone drops a bomb upon my house and kills everyone, then Imran Khan will become the biggest terrorist himself. This fervour and this enthusiasm provided that sense of fear in status quo what this youth can do. Their collective awareness and wisdom now could bring a revolution. This crowd was wild in its muse and they wanted answers to those years of sufferings.  A student from Peshawar University had vowed to himself that he will seek revenge to all the deaths in Laal Masjid but Musharaf ran away from the country. Now he has vowed to himself that he will seek revenge upon those responsible for the deaths of people killed by Raymond Davies – Asif Zardari and Shahbaz Shareef.

Almost an argument ensued with this young student from Peshawar the more I asked him about these things and his views. He mentioned about three well known journalists on the payroll of America and stated that in next sit in (Dharna), he will give these journalists the honour of having their pictures and posters clad with shoes in public. And if I do not disassociate myself from these three journalists, then he will consider me as well with them and the same treatment will be meted out to my picture as well. I wondered what if this student and hundreds more in this fervour on the streets of Lahore and Islamabad, imagine the impact these young souls can do. They can create a riot in their passion and from that sense of injustice that has dwelled upon them.

The most interesting thing came from Sardar Soran Singh. He said “When I had asked you to start a dialogue with Talibans, these people on the payroll of America and affiliations with the West screamed and protested about this”. …Now America wants to have a dialogue with the Talibans, and these very same people remain silent? Sardar Saab was representing the non Muslims in this Dharna (sit in).  Dr Fouzia Siddiqui, sister of Dr Aafia, proclaimed upon stage that she intends to present the bangles to President Zardari and Army Chief General Kiyani. So much passion and sense of pain her words created that one young man from remote village of Jaoti, in South Punjab, cried in pain and tormented and raised his hands towards the heavens, loudly offering Dua “Ae Allah Rid Pakistan from these Mir Jaffars and Mir Sadiqs”….Oh My Lord, help me and give me the strength so I can stand with Imran Khan and block this NATO route for a month and bring Dr Aafia back from America”. Seeing this young man, wildly crying in his bewilderment, it occurred to me all those intellectuals, whom had stated our allegiance to America and slavery as a ground reality, drone attacks the need of the time, and national pride and dignity simply an artificial and empty emotion.

As I wondered what if Imran Khan really decided to block roads going from Peshawar into Torkham and from Karachi into Chaman, what will the Americans do? What will they do if all routes going into Afghanistan are blocked upon call of Imran Khan? It is abundantly clear that our elected government is not going to do that – then Imran Khan will have to do what our elected government could not do.


 As I wondered, this man will carry the aspirations of this youth from all corners of Pakistan, these women who carried their children and the old who carried their pain and grief with them and sat through the protest. He will have to DO ALL what our elected government could not do. As I wondered……….of all what he will do, this Imran Khan what they could never do in past 60 years or so- our elected governments and our establishment. As I wandered through the streets of Peshawar, there was no fear, death and violence..Only the open skies and the man asleep amongst his people on the container….He had finally come home..As I wondered….the whole Pakistan was there, in pitched up tents, in open skies, finally freed from that bondage of slavery for 48 hours….As I wondered what the rest will do???…

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