LAHORE - The Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaafs public meeting held on the Minar-i-Pakistan lawn on Sunday was certainly an impressive show, perhaps bigger than all such events organised by the party since its inception about 15 years ago. People from other cities had also come in large numbers to participate and listen to Imran Khan, who strongly believes that the days of the 'old parties, which have been taking turns in power, are over and the future belongs to the PTI. The fact that the PTI chose Minar-i-Pakistan as the venue of its meeting showed that it was sure it would be well-attended. Its a place where hundreds of thousands of people can be seated quite easily and still a lot of space will remain unoccupied. That so many people turned up on a Sunday, which is a closed holiday, is also significant. On holidays, people come out of their homes only if they really think it is important. Otherwise, they prefer to stay back, relax and work out their plans for the next week. The participation of the people in PTIs rally, thus, shows that they really wanted to know if the cricketer-turned-politician had a ray of hope for them at a time when they were facing so many problems because of the wrong government policies. In the days ahead people will compare the turnout at this meeting with the PML-N public meeting held at Bhaati Chowk a couple of days ago. This will be the major subject of discussions for the Lahoris. Now it should be a matter of concern for parties like the PML-N to think whether the PTI was likely to break into their vote bank in a city of some eight million people. The PPP and the PML-Q, which plan to contest the next election together against the PML-N, also must think the impact of the PTI factor. At present, the city is the stronghold of the PML-N. Except for a few NA and Punjab Assembly seats, all others were won by the PML-N candidates in the 2008 elections. But it appears that the party ruling Punjab would have to do much more for the electorate to retain what is known as the Lahore throne. In case it didnt, rivals may pose a serious challenge to its position in the next elections. The sailing will also not be easy for Imran Khan. The mere fact that so many people were present at his public meeting doesnt mean that they would certainly vote for him. During the period between now and the elections many new factors may crop up which may change peoples views about his party. Sometimes, people support one candidate but in the polling booth they vote for somebody else. Its the support in the polling booth which really matters. If the PTI failed to channelise its popular support into votes, the tsunami Imran Khan talked of, or its massively-attended public meeting would mean nothing. As they say: 'Theres many a slip between the cup and the lip. As for the content of the speech, Imran Khan was evenhanded in the criticism of the PPP and the PML-N. The programme he gave for the future is also good. If he takes some steps to bring back to Pakistan looted money lying in various foreign banks, it will be an appreciable step. But, the looters are also quite influential people, who would not easily give in or give up. The PTI chiefs commitment that he would rid the people of the police culture and patwaris is rather a tall claim. Such promises were made by many leaders in the past, but none could keep them. In fact, many governments came and went, but corrupt police and patwaris are there, as they were. No government, including the present one in Punjab, has been able even to reduce the level of corruption, leave alone the rhetoric of changing their culture. That the SHOs will be elected by people, as announced by Imran Khan, will be a new experiment. And it is difficult to say anything about the outcome of such a step. One thing that can be said with a degree of certainty is that not all those elected to various positions are honest. They use money to get elected and then they recover their investment with huge profits. As Mr Khan is yet to test peoples loyalty to him, he should desist from hurling threats like that of civil obedience. Such a step cannot be taken unless a large number of unwavering people are fully behind you and are prepared to face all kinds of consequences of challenging the law.