Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Voter Turnout


Dear Imran,

I was a schoolgirl in the 80’s and I know you. I remember the excitement of the Brookebond ad, the value of your autograph. I remember the pages in slambooks dedicated to you. I know who my boy-cousins and chacha’s were pretending to be when they swung a bat over their shoulders and sauntered onto a cricket pitch, the way a teenage Waseem Akram used to look at you. That’s right, Skipper, my generation remembers all that.

I also remember the day your beaming face lifting the World Cup was banned from national TV. My nineties-born boy cousins were named ‘Imran,’ they live with that name today. I remember one of Jemima’s earliest interviews when she said she knew her husband ‘was popular in Pakistan—but she had no idea he was this popular.’

‘Bimbo,’ I thought…along with the rest of the women in this country. ‘Where did you come from?’ Who could like that woman for marrying…and then leaving…Imran Khan… ‘No Hugh Grant ever matched up, huh Jem?’

I watched with unease when you were ridiculed in politics, when flibbertigibbets like Nadia Khan could smirk publicly at you. When you shed the playboy shirts and donned the awami suit. You made my heart sink with your vote on the Women’s Bill. I winced as you talked about the Ahmedis. ‘Who is he, really?’ I wondered. But my eyes were also opened by the way my students—now men in their 20’s—began to attend your jalsas. And then, when my sister skyped in to tell me that my seven-year-old nephew all the way across in Liverpool, dropped his plastic cricket bat and began sobbing loudly, heartbreakingly, at the sight of your bloodied face being carried away from the forklift. It’s happened all over again.

One nation held its breath at precisely the same second, last night, when you tumbled off that forklift, Skipper. We held our breath and reached for each other, de-ja-vu washing over our hearts. You’ve made us hold our breath countless times before: West Indies, India, Sharjah, the World Cup. But not quite like this. We exhaled together when we heard you were ok, ignoring partisanship to look each other in the eyes to read the same thought: We cant afford to lose…this man.

There was nothing play-boyish, nothing glamorous about your face looking out at us from the hospital bed. There were 60 years etched in those lines, pain in those puffy eyes. But it gave us goose bumps to hear what you had to say. I never watched cricket. I never believed in politics. Until you, Skipper. For years, I’ve heard the drawing room talk lamenting our leadership crisis. Last night, despite ourselves, we saw a Leader.

I disagree with you on so much but you make me determined to fight for it all. If you get elected, someone might actually listen. Looking at how you’ve persevered through the last 17 years till all turned to look twice: this makes me believe in democracy in a way that the Bhutto legacy or the Shareef baradaran never could. I’m coming to believe in democracy, thanks to you, Skipper. For so many years, we’ve waited for a moment to feel our collective heartbeat, for a moment to celebrate. Beneath our sarcasm and skepticism, our blood—though these days it trickles rather than flows—remains forever, green. 

I am 37 and I’ve never voted. This morning, I sms-ed my ID and noted my polling station. This morning, I fished around in my ilmari for a green dupatta to iron for the 11th.  This morning, I let Junaid Jamshed sing ‘Inshallah…’ in my car as I dropped my daughter to her school. Even though I boycotted his lawn this year over his comment that women shouldn’t drive, even though I share no beliefs with that man, I clutched at the steering wheel and joined my voice with his: InshAllah…InshAllah. Voter turnout will determine the election? Well then. This voter will turn up.

‘Come on, Imran.’ I remember the way the commentators used to say it as the crowd’s feet began to thump in the stands, soft and so slow at first, then louder, much louder, gaining speed…as you gained speed. ‘Come on, Skipper.’

You have a people to lead.

Sincerely,
Hareem.


27 comments:

Wasiq Nadeem said...

wonderful article, Hareem!!!! struck the cord perfectly. May Allah bless our beloved Pakistan with the leadership that we so sorely miss.

omer aziz said...

More than the blood, I believe in the sweat that he has shed for this country and ppl.. Long live IK long live hope..

Waqar Mahmood said...

best is :)

salman said...

Yah I SmS the first time in my life to check my vote , The first time i prayed for any Pakistani Political Leader . The first time i visited SKH to see the movement the first time i saw people crying and praying. The first time i want to fight for My Pakistan

Murtaza Ali Agha said...

Very well written and truly captures the feelings and spirit of the nation. Good work.

Rumessa Naqvi said...

*tears*

Safwan said...

Awesome Hareem! Inshallah, naya Pakistan with Imran.

Tasneem Atcha said...

Fabulous article!Your each n every words reflecting our emotions.Yes Imran Khan is a man of words.He lead us with pride in the field nw he is leading us to another heights of pride with one Nation in #NAYAPAKISTAN.

Tehmina said...

Well written as always though I have very serious reservations over the "skipper". I suspect he might be a narcissistic mullah but then there is no one else worth voting for either. I think that people voting for him, should not just stop there. Join the party and try to influence his stance on the taliban, minorities like the ahmedis and women.

Mudasar Malik said...

Awesome, and definitely made allot of people to rethink or change there point of view about Imran Khan. Imran Khan you may not be perfect (as nobody is) but you are thinking for Pakistan and people of Pakistan. ALLAH BLESS YOU ALWAYS.

Dr Nezha said...

Wow!!! Great article! It brought tears in my eyes Yes that is the spirit behind this election. That is my last hope for Pakistan and for my kids future in Pakistan. Yesterday i was crying in namaz asking Allah that pakistan can't be that unfortunate and we can't be loosing our last hope. This time things will change IA since we all are together in bringing this change. May Allah help us through this .Pakistan Zindabad !

Ghazal Sarmad said...

once when i watched him on tv and now reading your article i am crying and prayer as i never did before.. .
Bless you Hareem for these lines!
Naya Pakistan Inshallah..!!

Ahmed Hassan said...

For those indifferent to vote - this article will surely help you clear the clutter and resurrect your affinity with the only Pakistani idol.

MANSOOR ALI Khan said...

woowww T...if this doesn't move some of us..what else will.. brilliant young lady.. absolutely heart warming

wisha khan said...

long live Ik, long live hope...Pakistan Zindabaad!!!

Ummair Waheed said...

Wow, don't have the words. This captures so much! Beautifully written. Thank you.

Simti said...

Excellent piece of writing, am impressed. Awe inspiring and motivational yet being so simplistic. Am glad the skipper finally awakened the patriot in you. We have hope and that is what we have to go and vote for....Hope for Pakistan and a believe in creating and realizing the dream. JZK

Hareem Atif Khan said...

Thank you for the kind words. I only hope this inspires other sleeping schoolgirls of the Eighties to become first time voters. It will be hard to challenge the numbers in the feudal, rural areas...this is my small contribution to IK's campaign.

Simti said...

Can only say hat's off.
heartening to see young people like you with so much insight.

Fatimah Agha said...

tears are flowing...we need you..make it happen..IK..lets all make it happen..lets make the unbeliveble happen..lets make the unprecedented happen..lets go out and win for a NAYA PAKISTAN!!!

Khalid Rahman said...

May I copy this excellent piece of prose appreciating Imran on Facebook?
I think it should be read by more and more people.

Hareem Atif Khan said...

Khalid, Please feel free to share with as many people as you can. There is a Twitter and Facebook tag under the article, please press both.

Ena said...

Beautifully written...exactly my feelings.i was never interested in politics n i know nothing about cricket.For the first time in my life i m feeling so excited and supporting a political party.I ' m so anxious for da results just da way it used to be when SSC or HSSC results were about to be announced..But dis time its soo unfortunate of me for i cant come to pak n cast my vote..,this breaks my heart:( My sincere request to all the youth dont sit back at home...Our elders have lived through their lives its v the younger generation who needs to get involved in retrieving our Pakistan...we must leave some good environment for our kids so dat they might recall us the way v recall our forefathers...My hearty prayers wid Imran Khan and his supporters and sincerly wosh those dat our against Imran Khan might get a turn over before 11th may inshallah.
Ameen

Fault line said...

I know, you are right, his popularity scans across at least 3 generations!

Waheed Bhatty said...

Beautifully written. Moves young and old souls alike.This is what we need, more people like you. keep it up. God bless you.

Junaid said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Junaid said...

This is the best piece of writing i have read in a long time.

Simply marvelous.

Keep writing, we need more of these.

I am too far away from Pakistan and my heart is aching at what the corrupt politicians have done to these elections. Some polling stations reporting even 300% turnout in PML-N's favor.

Heartbreaking, and ignorant people are dancing on roads, just unaware of in what misery they have put the whole nation for another God knows how many long years...