ISLAMABAD (SYED DANISH HUSSAIN & USMAN CHEEMA) – It’s been becoming a routine feature that a carnival atmosphere takes on the whole occasion for rest of the day, after majority of the sit-in attendants leave the Jinnah Avenue after devotedly listening to prolonged and rambling speech-cum-sermon of Tahirul Qadri based on everyday changing extra-constitutional demands, cautions and warnings to city administration and ruling regime.
The priceless emotions and invaluable enthusiasm of around four thousand women proudly claiming to be daughters of Qadri and are brought from the religious seminaries and educational institutes running under the aegis of Minhajul Quran continue to lure the attention of national and international media.
Instead of feeling desperate and demoralised from the inhumane living conditions at the protest venue, they on the second day of their protest were more energetic in terms of response to Qadri’s speech, party anthems and slogans and optimistic about some imminent revolution.
On Wednesday night, after spending two consecutive days and nights amid high drama under the naked sky, the participants overall mode was reflecting that they have successfully settled down in given life style.
And why should not they. As they are already on oath that they would not leave until achieving undefined and vague targets settled by Qadri for them, besides pledges time and again made by Qadri of better returns against their that day struggle at the Day of Judgement.
In crowd one can also feel, though after hectic observation, the little presence of women belonging to well-to-do families residing in Islamabad, who could easily be seen in protests Khan-led PTI used to organise.
“I am disappointed from all political forces present on country’s political spectrum. Imran Khan was a ray of hope but he and his party leaders have curtailed themselves to their houses at this testing time. I will join each and every person who will strive for a changed country,” Naheed Anjum, 42, said who claimed that she was neither associated with Minhajul Quran nor impressed by the religious teachings of Qadri. Anjum was of the view that masses were seeing towards Imran Khan as last option but now that last chance had been exhausted.
Besides dozens of makeshift dhabas and roadside stall selling edibles, the mobile easy load shops where mobile charging facility against nominal charges have also sprung up within the sit-in venue. While, some of the women participants of the protest have found opportunity out of crises as they also established their food stalls at the women side of the crowd.
“I am not doing this for profit but to facilitate the fellow participants. I am selling channa chat plate against nominal price of Rs 20. Tell me how one can earn profit from such small amount,” Tehsin Rehman said who is running a food stall within the premises of scattered crowd.
Some of the participants of the sit-in have also moved to tents provided by the city administration to them. “A tent has capacity to house around 10 people. However, tents are few in number and could not accommodate all the women participants and still thousands of our women spent night under the sky,” Zil-e-Huma, a member of the administration of the sit-in said.
The determination and devotion of the participants, especially of the women, is still extremely high and above all questions. Though almost all the participants are affiliated in one way or the other with Minhajul Quran but Qadri’s slogan for change has added a new dimension to their association with their party and its head.
“Rain can not deter our resolve. You will see that all of us will be here even if it rained,” said Zareen Shahid when she was told about the prediction of Metrological Office that a light rain spell likely to hit federal capital on Thursday. Zareen, 22, is a graduate from one of the colleges of Minhajul Quran and hails from Muzaffargarh.
On one hand, the participants of the sit-in have been exercising their constitutionally bestowed fundamental right, right to protest, but on the other the trader community of famous Blue Area have become worst victim of that right. Blue Area houses the head offices of several banks, national and multinational companies, private offices, shops etc. The business hub of the federal capital has been closed for the last several days. Meanwhile, most of the people came along with the long march initiated by Dr Tahir-ul-Qadri did not know that it will prolong so long and they came with the hope to be back at their homes stations next day.
Many among the marchers, especially the ladies and aged people, are suffering the most at the moment and it was also observed that a nearby hospital Polyclinic was full of cold affected marchers. Children and ladies were especially seen in the hospital getting treatment. It is worth mentioning here that only the captive fans of Qadri were suffering but he himself remained in his fully equipped container that is bombproof as well.
It was learnt that the people came with the families did not know that they will have to stay another night in Islamabad in the freezing cold. Qadri had made his followers believe that as soon as they will enter the city, they will conquer it.
It is also worth mentioning here that most of the marchers consist of the people with strong faith in religion along with their attachment with Qadri. Such people are now in a fix after giving oath to Qadri that they will not leave the site. While many have broken the oath and left the site, many are still hanging between staying and leaving for their homes where they could sleep just like Qadri was sleeping in his cabin.
A twelve-member group that was leaving Qadri on his own disposal said that they could not tolerate the freezing cold weather anymore. They said that they were also among those who gave oath to Qadri but May God forgive us for this as Qadri is not clear in his demands too and we are feeling stupid as well.
Replying to the question why they were in Islamabad, one of them told that his uncle was once student of Minhaj-ul-Quran and he forced them to join the march as he had orders from his organisation to gather as much people as possible.