What a moment it is, what a moment it must be. Ordinary people on the streets of Lahore on Sunday, countless thousands of them, have forced the Pakistani government to re-instate the deposed Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. What a moment of hope in a country the rest of the world believes is about to ‘implode’. What a resurrection of yourself, Mian Sa’ab, who will now remember how unpopular you were when Mush had ousted you!
Here’s an extremely illuminating account of what happened in Lahore, an anonymous account circulating on some mailing lists. This is apart from some excellent citizen reportage on Twitter by Pakistanis.
The Army, the Presidency, the Americans and the Prime Minister, were all ready to throw peanuts at Nawaz Sharif. The assessment was that 500 will reach constitution avenue (read Salman Taseer). In Pindi, we had halwa puri at a friends house today. A PPP friend who knew my passion for the CJ, at 11-00 am said, looking at me, “Yar Imran, there is a bigger long march in my house than in Lahore.” A PML N friend told me from Lahore, “Punjabis dont get out in the face of danda. The long march will fail.”
The starting point of the Long March from Lahore was the GPO chowk. Nawaz had to join it from model town. Nawazs house had 40 PML N workers chanting tired slogans at 10-30. Mall in front of GPO had a vacant look at 10-55. Police and the empty road. A sole lawyer reached GPO chowk at 11-00 am and said to Express TV, ” I made it, others can come too.” By 12 around 50 civil society activists and lawyers reached the place.
Then, God smiled.
Police starting using the third degree. Surprisingly, fool hardily, the 50 surivived the first 15 minutes, and fought back. By another 15 minutes, they became 150 and started throwing stones at the police. Justice Shahid Siddiqui got a shell and was injured. For three hours they kept fighting, girls, women, lawyers, including Asma Jilani. Express had a crane camera and three great reporters. Lahore saw police beating girls and activists.
Mian sb was reluctant to come out. He did not have numbers with him. There was no organisation. Lahore was locked, and some rich kids were preparing for Basant. I think the GPO beatings shook him. Hamza Shahbaz stealthily broke free in an SUV , with ten people.
Express broke the news.
Suddenly Lahore woke up. “Nawaz is out, on his own?”
In two hours, the 10 became 20,000.
In the meanwhile, the 150 at GPO chowk fought, some fainted but did not leave despite Salman Taseer’s goons.
In these three hours from 11-00 am to 2-00 pm, Pakistan’s destiny changed. Lahoris woke up, and joined their son.
In another three hours, they knew that lacs would reach islamabad. No police, no army could stop the procession.
So, Kiyani went to the presidency and prime ministers house. The 202 calls were made, but 202 had seen the procession. If you dont give him what he wants, “he will take everything.”
Nawaz Sharif is in Muridke only.
The CJ is inshallah going to be restored.
When history will be written about this transformational moment in Pakistan’s history, we must remember the GPO 150. Had they stayed at home thinking “what difference can i make,” our dark night would not have ended.
The people of Pakistan have great passion, you need to show them the way. That is what the GPO 150 did.