The day had been pretty much the same as the Jalsa in 2011 when Imran Khan came up to speak. There had been sporadic bursts of chanting, singing, the occasional dancing accompanied as well as wisecracks at the more lacklustre speeches. Then, the heavens opened up and everything changed!
Before the storm arrived Khan told his audience not to leave when it did; he needn’t have bothered. The weather merely served to enhance the electric atmosphere. An already charged up crowd stood on their chairs to wholeheartedly embrace the elements. As the winds gained momentum, so did the enthusiasm of the PTI supporters, and when conditions eventually took their toll on Khans audibility the crowd knew exactly how to respond. For an immeasurable amount of time, they stood, arms raised, facing the heavy downpour, the wind, and in the backdrop of thunder and lightening wildly going through various chants. They shifted several times through “We Want Change” to the somewhat appropriate “Aik Tsunami aik Toofan, Imran Khan Imran Khan”.
Eventually, as some of the lights gave out, it became apparent that continuing would be impossible and people from the stage could be seen signalling for the crowd to leave, some of the more enthusiastic had even moved on to “Doob Jaaenge Mar Jaaenge, Nahi Jaaenge Nahi Jaeenge!”. Finally, however, the tide slowly began to recede, bringing to end one of the most spectacular experiences ever.
Somebody had pointed me to the weather report before the day began. I knew the thunderstorm was on the cards and was worried it might ruin everything. Rain had come and gone once during the day, not nearly as severe as what followed at night, and people had taken it in their stride. However, when the storm hit, it magnified the magnitude of the experience. It gave the crowd the opportunity to show they were serious. This was not some rent-a-crowd going through the motions, nor were these picnic-makers on a fun day out. These were people out to make a point, and they meant business.
Those minutes where nature and the crowd got together to put up their spectacular show perfectly symbolised everything the PTI has been trying to achieve. If the analysts and the media are able to properly capture the essence of that moment (which I think they have failed to do so thus far), it should be enough to cause the other parties some serious sleepless night. As it stands, they deny these scenes at their own peril. Keep watching, this Tsunami may well hit Pakistani shores against all odds – not bad for a party that started out as the butt of “garmi mein kharaab” jokes.