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Imran Khan continues to fight for democracy in Pakistan

When I visited Pakistan earlier this year, little did I know that I would be making history, by being part of the one of the world’s largest and longest street demonstrations.  As Imran Khan tweeted: “This morning I walked around Azadi Square where people too congratulate them 4 setting world record: 44 consecutive days at Azadi dharna. Commitment.”  The Azadi ‘freedom’ march began on the 14 August 2014 and coincided with Pakistan’s 67th independence-day.  Living in a self-sustained container and to the loud eruption of noise and sound of music, appeared the cricket star, who I once sat down in my living room and watched captain Pakistan win the world cup in 1992.

Now the cricketer turned politician, has different things on his mind, although he cannot resist taking us down the memory lane, “In one single ball, I will break the wicket of Nawaz Sharif and Zardari (the former President of Pakistan).”  Now, however he has a different message, citing the poetry of Allama Iqbal, he wants a ‘Naya’ (new) Pakistan.  A new Pakistan, where the rich and elite from society, stop dodging taxes, and which is free from economic misery, human rights abuses, deprivation, electricity shortage and ultimately no more corruption.  In Khan’s words a “revolution” is happening.  The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Facebook page has over 2,108,527 likes and it seems like those numbers are now translated offline as the Azadi demonstrations are awash with colours of green and red.

According to Khan, “Pakistani Awam Jaag Gaya” (Pakistan has woken up).  From, Islamabad where the heartbeat of the protest movement began to the demonstrations in Karachi and Lahore, this freedom march is like no other.  It aims to reinvent Pakistan and hold those in power to account.  But change doesn’t come without trial and difficulty and Imran Khan and those attending the demonstrations have risked arrest, death and police brutality.  Despite this, the sound beats of ‘Go Nawaz Go’ continue to get louder, so much so that one of Nawaz Sharif’s own ministers, the President of Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz KPK, Pir Sabir Shah had to hold a press conference in Peshawar and apologize for chanting ‘Go Nawaz go’ slogans at a convention by mistake. The slogan which has been reverberating in Pakistan was even challenged in the Lahore High Court because apparently it was causing ‘chaos’ and posed a ‘threat’ to society.  Indeed, the Prime Ministers, daughter Maryam Nawaz Sharif ,it appears she  also had enough of the chanting, as she tweeted: “Seems PMLN workers have had enough of PTI vandalism. A tit for tat response & PTI won’t find a place to hide. Saw trailer in Wazirabad today.”

The Prime Minister himself has tried to remain calm and collective in the face of protest, but has been recently looking flustered and angry. After going on a visit to the US, he met with a chorus of opposition and finally broke his silence at a press conference urging Imran Khan to stop holding the ‘Dharna’ (demonstration) and help families who were victims of the recent water floods.  Khan however it appears that PTI has no plans of leaving yet, saying: “I’m not moving till Nawaz Sharif resigns.”

However, the demonstrations continue to take place, as the country is gripped with anticipation as the crowds continue to flock together to get a glimpse of Imran Khan.  For once, ordinary Pakistanis have had enough of the ‘VIP’ culture that exists in Pakistan’s patriarchal society and they want real change.  There has been an upsurge in support for Imran Khan and for once people genuinely believe he could be the new Prime Minister in waiting.  I believe, we are witnessing a momentous occasion in Pakistani politics where finally people feel empowered to come out on the streets, both men and women alike and want their voices heard.

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