Lawyers, political parties, non-governmental organisations and school children held protests and meetings here on Wednesday to condemn the attack on Malala Yousafzai, a 14-year-old peace activist who was shot in the head by the Taliban in Swat a day earlier.
The Lahore High Court Bar Association (LHCBA) general house passed a unanimous resolution condemning the assassination attempt on the schoolgirl, while the Lahore Bar Association (LBA) went on strike and put up black flags at Aiwan-i-Adl.
Some 200 people joined protests at the Lahore Press Club, first by the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) and then left parties and NGOs. A protest was also reported at the Liberty Roundabout.
Lawyers warn Taliban
The participants in the LHCBA meeting said Yousafzai was a prominent voice for girls’ right to education and she had made her fellow Muslim women proud. The resolution warned her assailants to “stop their heinous activities, otherwise the LHCBA will take concrete measurers against them”.
Former Supreme Court Bar Association president Asma Jahangir condemned the attack as shameful and cowardly. She also expressed concern over the fate of 13 girls declared vani recently in Balochistan and demanded that the provincial and federal governments take measures against the extrajudicial jirga system.
LHCBA President Shahram Sarwar said that Yousafzai’s “crime” had been to write a blog diary under the name Gul Makai in which she voiced her desire, and that of her female friends, to get an education. He said that the bar strongly condemned the attack.
Members of the LBA wore black armbands and hoisted black flags in protest at the attack on Yousafzai. LBA General Secretary Asad Abbas Zaidi said that the bar stood with Yousafzai. “I fail to understand what she did wrong. If a child who talks about education can be attacked, it shows that no one is secure in Pakistan,” he said.
The LBA strike meant hearings at the district and sessions court were adjourned. The Orient Labs case, in which Additional District and Sessions Judge Arshad Ali is hearing the bail pleas of factory owners Zaheer and Zafar Iqbal, was adjourned till Thursday. Meanwhile, Additional District and Sessions Judge Abdul Qayyum Khan adjourned until October 16 proceedings on an acquittal application moved by Shan Khusro, son of former commissioner Parvez Khusro, who is accused of murdering a classmate.
Lahore Press Club
The Lahore wing of the PTI staged a protest outside the Press Club from around 4pm. PTI workers led by Farooq Amjad Mir and Sadia Suhail shouted anti-Taliban slogans. They carried a banner in Urdu reading, “We want our daughters to be like Malala”.
Suhail said the protest was not meant to be political, but solely to condemn the attack. The Taliban should be ashamed for attacking a teenage girl, she said, but added that she believed that there was a “foreign hand” behind the attack. “The Al Qaeda network does not just exist inside Pakistan, but is well-established globally,” she said.
The PTI women’s wing has also planned a dua at its Punjab secretariat for Thursday at around 4pm.
Workers of the Labour Party, the Workers’ Party, the National Student Federation and the Bonded Labour Federation Front as well as some NGOs protested at the Press Club from around 6pm. They carried a banner reading, “Those with guns fear an unarmed girl.”
Children from various government schools and their teachers marched from Charing Cross to join the protest at the Press Club.
Farooq Tariq, president of the Labour Party Pakistan, was impressed by the “quick mobilisation of all groups”.
“All sorts of political groups have come to protest at the same time and this is impressive. It is good to see political activists show solidarity with the youth,” he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 11th, 2012.