COMMENT: A brief history of our revolution — I —Munir Attaullah - Wednesday, March 09, 2011

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Sensing his time had finally come under another divine plan to snatch victory for his nation from the jaws of defeat (as in the 1413 Hijri World Cup), Imran Khan boldly showed up at the stadium with only a toothbrush, vowing to stay put there until he had personally coached every unemployed youth to became another Aamir, Asif, or Salman

As I write this, the calendar on the wall says it is early in the year 1435 Hijri. That means it is now some two years since, inspired by events in the Arab world, we successfully carried out our own people’s revolution in Pakistan.

As an aside here, and as a surreptitious concession to those few who still cling nostalgically to the old Gregorian calendar for remembering events, I add that 1435 Hijri translates to the year 2013 AD. Why ‘surreptitious’? Because all references to the Gregorian calendar were officially banned last year by the Federal Shariat Court, in a suo motu action. The rationale given was the need to reject all forms of western cultural imperialism.

The nitpickers say, as a result few people today (ulema included) can remember off-hand even the year of partition (can you?), let alone other dates that once were on the tip of everyone’s tongue. Nor can we now seemingly agree on the day we should celebrate Independence Day or Jinnah’s birthday, etc. To these critics I reply (a) morons! Simply use the conversion app on all your mobiles and (b) in the past did we not live happily with multiple Eids?

For many reasons the true history of the period remains controversial and largely shrouded in fog. But we owe it to future generations to faithfully reconstruct and write down that history. So this is the task I have set myself today.

The ball was set rolling by another of those ‘spontaneous’ people’s rallies against Raymond Davis, or the price hikes and load shedding, or the attempt to amend the blasphemy laws, or whatever. A further impetus was provided by Nawaz Sharif’s declaration of a ‘long march’ to demand mid-term elections before 1433 AH. But critical mass was only achieved when Altaf ‘Bhai’ again made the dramatic announcement that he was — Insha’Allah — really returning this time (‘very soon’) to personally lead the revolution (in tandem with patriotic Generals).

That historic decision by the Pir of London clearly had divine blessing. As evidence, let me remind you his decision came exactly 99 years (by Islamic reckoning) after Lenin made a similar decision to return to Russia from Switzerland to lead another successful revolution. Miracle of divine miracles, do we not — coincidentally — know Allah by his 99 attributes?

As if all this was insufficient, the PPP finally decided to play the ‘Sindh Card’. And the SC issued a further flurry of orders on just about everything. Meanwhile, the Army High Command, through an ISPR press release, vowed to stand by the people and do whatever was necessary in the supreme national interest.

The long and short of it all was that the contagion of uncertainty and jitters spread rapidly through organised society. Not knowing which way to jump, it was frozen into inaction, allowing those with little to lose to take over the streets. I do not know about the ‘triple-one’ brigade; but certainly its quasi-civilian back-up, known as the ‘triple-two’ brigade (made up of elements of the ISI, a re-born MMA, and al Qaeda), went on red alert, and dusted off long prepared takeover plans.

It should be noted here that certain TV anchors of an ideological bent had suggested at the time all this chaos and unrest was instigated and orchestrated by the Americans. Allegedly, it was an attention diverting move to facilitate a CIA operation that would snatch Davis (and Dr AQ Khan) and dismantle our nuclear arsenal. Once the cover of hundreds of lurking operatives posing as diplomats had been blown, urgent action had become imperative, went the argument. Besides, how else could one explain the sudden and mysterious flood in the bazaars of millions of dollars in small denomination notes?

For the record, as I write, the nuclear arsenal is still safely in our hands; the father of the ‘bum’ is still happily enlightening us with his unmatched wisdom (as a columnist), and Raymond Davis remains in Kot Lakhpat Jail, still awaiting trial. And those dollars turned out to be fakes, printed in Urdu Bazaar courtesy an enterprising currency dealer posing as the resident IMF rep.

As the roads became choked with protestors, I had to give up my daily golf game. In any case, the crowds had taken over Lahore Gymkhana and all other landmarks. The old Gaddafi Stadium (later renamed Imran Khan Stadium), now flood-lit every night, resembled Tahrir Square in Cairo, with a 24/7 carnival atmosphere, and milling throngs extending all the way to Liberty Market and the Canal. Such scenes were duplicated in all major cities.

Where were the power brokers? Well, in the first few days some worthies did make an effort to get to the stadium to address the crowd. But when travel by car — let alone in a bulletproof limousine escorted by a convoy — became impossible, they prudently confined themselves to their homes. In similar vein, Altaf ‘Bhai’, having hastily flown in by a chartered A-380, had to be airlifted by helicopter from the tarmac at Karachi airport to Nine-Zero. The grand jaloos planned by the MQM had drowned in a sea of humanity now unconcerned with political affiliation. And the Sharif brothers were reduced to holding daily emergency meetings with party stalwarts in Raiwind Palace.

That was okay for a while as the TV channels continued to broadcast political interviews of the big shots from their lairs. But once the crowds began throwing garbage at the screen whenever a politician appeared on the big outdoor TVs that had been set-up, it dawned on the media that the only story in town now was out there on the streets. Those interviews stopped. The Rubicorn was crossed when a COAS’s directive that the media turn up at his camp office to tape his appeal to the nation, went unheeded.

All this while only Imran Khan, confident as ever, kept his nerve. Sensing his time had finally come under another divine plan to snatch victory for his nation from the jaws of defeat (as in the 1413 Hijri World Cup), he boldly showed up at the stadium with only a toothbrush, vowing to stay put there until he had personally coached every unemployed youth to became another Aamir, Asif, or Salman. That was the way, he argued, to keep the World Cup (and the 20/20 trophy) permanently in Pakistan’s possession, and he was the only one who could make it happen.

The crowds went delirious. But the political masterstroke came when he (heeding my advice over the phone from Beirut), got the CJP and Dr AQ Khan to fly in by helicopter to join him in support. Now, in between showing Bollywood movies, re-plays of our World Cup triumph, and scenes of a bhangra dancing public, the TV channels went into a frenzy covering the new troika’s movements, 24/7.

Messages of support from all over the world soon turned into a flood (with Sarah Palin, the prospective Republican candidate in the next US Presidential election, inviting the Khan to bring his cricket team to Alaska for a match to decide the fate of Davis). And, crucially, the dreaded ‘triple-two’ brigade sensed the utter futility of any attempt akin to pissing upwind against this blowing hurricane. Shrewdly, they decided their long-term plans would, for the time being, be best served by throwing the weight of all their dedicated agent provocateurs behind the Khan’s bandwagon.

Thus it came to pass that the chant of ‘Khalifa Imran Khan’ soon reverberated irresistibly throughout the land. The Revolution had come.

(As the electricity is about to go off now — 22 hours load-shedding daily, and strictly no generators allowed under the decreed new regimen of equal pain-sharing for all — I must stop here. Wait till next week to read the story of how the Revolution was consolidated and of developments since).

(To be continued)

The writer is a businessman. A selection of his columns is now available in book form. Visit

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