What I’ve realised in the aftermath of the march is that many a people came down on the anti-drone peace march because they had a different political ideology, or because the march wasn’t called by the party they support. Amid scathing criticism were the calls that after all, the march was for Pakistan. Ground reality is different from many publicised versions. Travelling with the rally, I found that the locals exhibited love for the PTI’s considerate gesture for them.
I noticed that the major source of communication in the areas bordering tribal agencies is mosque loudspeaker. On the day of the rally, calls were made against PTI march participants.
I heard a call: “Punjab say yahood-o-nisara arahay hain.” It is needless to say at whose behest these calls were made as the politico-religious figure has made it explicit himself in exchanges of spats.
The locals there are simple — the only fact they know is that they are being killed by drones and they feel that no one in Pakistan cares about doing something about it. For them, the PTI march appeared nullifying their perception. So simple are they that most would not know the name of the incumbent PM.
According to one analysis, for the politico-religious figure who traditionally rules the roost in the area the march surfaced up as a game-changer. Probably he saw in Imran Khan a candidate the locals may vote for as an alternative. Notwithstanding political point-scoring in the wake and aftermath of the march, the slogan that marked the rally was “Rasha Rasha Imran Rasha” (come come Imran come or welcome, welcome, Imran welcome).
A young boy, Majeed, there asked me: Are you from Punjab? “Yes, I am,” I replied. He said he was so happy that Imran visited his area. As the caravan moved forward and stopped at tank, suddenly a man came in front of Imran’s vehicle and started crying so much that his beard got wet. Imran came out of the car and sat with him on the road. This guy was a victim of drone attack — his family had vanished in only single strike. Imran seemed helpless, and condoled with him.
The convoy moved forward. When it reached Jandola, it was 3pm. From there, it turned around. Addressing, Imran said he would not risk lives of people (in the rally) by pressing ahead into Waziristan.