KARACHI: The Liaquatabad flyover blocked with containers in the middle had the tight corners through which one could squeeze one’s way to the other side for a refreshing change of scenery. There were carpets spread on the road. The containers, too, this side of the bridge were covered entirely with blue posters announcing April 23 as the day of the ‘Haq Parast’ already on Saturday.
In the middle of the steepest point of the flyover, amid the cheerful chatter, carefree laughs, singing of MQM anthems and clapping were the hearts afire of the people exuberating confidence.
“I am here because I’m a Mohajir not a wadera,” said Nighat Ibrahim, in a wheelchair. A victim of polio, she said she had to be there to support her people who had never been treated fairly. “We are middle-class people who spend all they have on their children’s education. And our children, knowing about their parents’ sacrifices, also study hard, get good grades, only to be turned away when it comes to getting jobs in favour of lesser qualified people. It is so because we are Mohajirs and they sons and daughters of the soil,” she said.
“This Imran Khan, he got it easy. The son of wealthy parents, who own lands, the only times he ever had to struggle was on the ground while playing cricket matches. Look at our prime minister. Son of a business man, brought up amid luxury. These people can feed their seven generations from what they have today. We only have each other. And this unity is what’s going to get us our rights,” she said.
“My daughter and son are doing their A-Levels and O-Levels. Both happen to be straight ‘A’ students. But they are intelligent and sensitive children who worry about their future in a country where merit has no value. Our only hope is that man. He is the one who can do it for us,” she said pointing to a smiling picture of Altaf Hussain, with ‘nation’s only hope’ written next to it.
Chacha MQM, the party mascot, said he had been with the MQM right from the start and intended to hold his stance right till his end. “Yes, we came this side after partition to make Pakistan our home. But instead of being welcomed with open arms, we were given labels such as ‘Mohajir’, ‘Mutterwa’, ‘Tilliar’, ‘Bhayya’, ‘Panahgeer’. They say we are ‘nunga bhooka’ people ‘kala peela’ folk. Well, we burnt our boats when coming here. We can’t go back. You don’t want to accept us, you don’t want to put your hand on our heads, fine! Give us our own province so that we, too, have a place where we can belong,” said the man dressed in MQM colours from head to toe.
One side of the flyover was reserved for the men and one for the party’s women’s wing. In between lay a roped partition. “We are reserving this spot for our MPAs, MNAs and other leaders,” said Bilal Hussain, a young volunteer. When asked where were the chairs for the VIPs, the young man smiled and shook his head. “Our leaders won’t sit on chairs, they’ll sit with us, cross-legged on the floor.”
Looking downwards one noticed the traffic moving normally, the shops open and life carrying on as usual. Gazing back upwards one couldn’t miss the Al Azam Square building in a bad way with many of its residents watching the goings-on of the flyover from the rooftop. The huge building can use a new paint coat and some maintenance. But as it grew dark, the terrible state of the building was no longer that visible. The thing more prominent then were the crisp kite posters in some of its windows and the new green, red and white flags fluttering in the evening air.
Dawn : MQM rally participants pin their hopes on Altaf