In my younger days, I have been at the receiving end of a police “lathi.” Believe me, it really hurts. The semi-literate constable acts on command. The viciousness of his strike depends on the meanness of his superior’s orders. There are two distinct patterns. A regular “lathi charge” aims to disperse and discourage crowds. The vindictive one is intended to hurt, teach a lesson and spread fear. What we witnessed during the long march was vindictiveness amplified many times. In the history of agitations and demonstrations in Pakistan, we have never witnessed such vicious and cruel treatment of women and children. It was like Israeli soldiers beating up Palestinians or Indian forces brutalizing unfortunate Kashmiris. Punjab Police was competing amongst themselves to see who can spill more blood or crack more skulls and damage windscreens. The participants emerged wearing the “red badge of courage.” I can’t get the image out of my mind of a youngster cruelly hit in the head with blood gushing out taken to the hospital. He got his head stitched, recovered his posture and came right back to rejoin the march. Such bravery and commitment emanates only in a revolution not in a political rally. Under sweltering heat and scorching sun, they overran obstacles and faced the goons let loose on them. The PTI leadership led from the front, taking it on the chin and not relenting. Young, old, women and children faced unbelievable barrage of tear gas. Yet, they remained undeterred from their cause: to rid Pakistan of this trash and corrupt coterie imposed on us. Nearly 36 hours of absolute mayhem was unleashed on innocent citizens exercising their legitimate right to demonstrate throughout Pakistan. It was traumatic yet the supporters of IK emerged smelling like roses. Nobody can call PTI a “burger party” anymore. Participants overcame their fear, in fact going forward they will instill fear in the hearts of their opponents. Nearly 36 hours of absolute mayhem was unleashed on innocent citizens exercising their legitimate right to demonstrate throughout Pakistan. The objective of reaching D Chowk was achieved. IK should consider himself blessed. The love, devotion and loyalty of his followers are unbelievable. His supporters stood their ground despite tear gas, indiscriminately fired rubber bullets and lathi charge. I was transfixed. The grand finale was a bit of an anti climax. The participants were seething with anger and ready to battle it out. The leader had valid reasons for pulling the plug. The devious regime had called in the army under Article 245 for protection of Government buildings and diplomatic areas. Once deployed, the crafty devils covertly expanded the deployment area to cover Blue Area and D Chowk. This would have led to a direct clash between the public and the army. This information was conveyed to IK who after reaching D Chowk took steps to prevent this clash. The other factor was the ongoing negotiations behind the scenes in which Sharif Government confirmed the dissolution of assembly. Unconfirmed reports state that a signed letter to dissolve the assemblies has been deposited with the President as a guarantee. However, the disbursed crowds could have been handled better. PTI organization must have done their preparations for a “dharna”. They should have announced meeting points for those who had assembled from far and wide and facilitated their returns. The leader cannot be expected to manage the nuts and bolts. His team fumbled the ball. As stated in my previous articles, this entire exercise of regime change was to achieve NRO for the Sharifs and Zardari. Pakistan’s suffering masses have never been their issue or concern. This is evident from the legislation passed in the National Assembly and Senate in such great haste. They have defanged NAB. Corruption has been legalized in Pakistan. Return of Nawaz Sharif and resurrection of Maryam Nawaz is their ultimate goal. It has been made reachable now. The elimination of voting machines has paved the way for repeating election frauds that Sharifs have mastered over the decades. “Free and fair” elections could now be a myth. The worst part is taking away the right to vote of 9 million Overseas Pakistanis. It is a tragedy of humungous proportions. Blinded by their political ambitions, they are biting the hand that feeds Pakistan. Without their remittances the nation will be bankrupt. PM Sharif you are licking the shoes of IMF for a billion dollars; overseas remittances reached 31 billion under PM IK. Shame on PDM. The Government is out of options while IK retains them all. A two vote margin can erode very quickly. BAP and MQM are already spreading their wings. Price increase of fuel is unbearable. Economy has tanked. Dollar is out of control. Next increase in prices is due in two weeks. It will further fuel people’s wrath. Only choice is to call elections. Azadi march has humbled PDM despite all their bluster. As stated in my earlier articles, the month of May was net practice, June will be decisive. PTI supporters have overcome their fears; they will descend on you again like a ton of bricks. IK has demonstrated his ability to mobilize. He will do it again because the nation stands behind him. PDM parties have only pockets of support. PTI has committed cadres from Karachi to Gilgit. PM Sharif must prevent a bloody showdown. You may have tear gas, rubber bullets and your mercenary Punjab Police. The will of the people has been tested once. The second round will be unbearable for you. Retrieve what you can before it is too late. The writer is the director of CERF, a non-profit, charitable organisation in Canada.