A glaring double standard

Published: June 2, 2010
Cinemas and theatres remained open  in Lahore after two attacks on the Ahmedi community on Friday.

Cinemas and theatres remained open in Lahore after two attacks on the Ahmedi community on Friday.

LAHORE: While a community mourned the deaths of over 90 people in two terrorist attacks in Lahore, cinemas and theatres across the city remained open as usual.

Generally, theatres and cinemas in Lahore are closed whenever there is a terrorist attack on the city or other problems affecting the state of law and order.

When cracker blasts took place in the Walled City on May 21, theatres and cinemas were closed down immediately.

The chairman of the Commercial Theatre Producers Association, Chaudhry Zulfiqar, confirmed this to The Express Tribune. He said that scheduled shows ran as planned after the terrorist attacks on Friday, and that no show was cancelled. However, he said, there was a drop in attendance at the city’s main theatres including Alfalah, Tamaseel, Naz and Alhamra.

The only show that was cancelled was a performance by Ajoka Theatre, which was scheduled to run at the Lahore Arts Council on Friday.

Zulfiqar said that the reason for this is that Lahore’s citizens have now gotten used to terrorist attacks.

“Theatre administrations have a commitment to the public. We were not intimated by the administration (police and law enforcement agencies) to shut down theatres so we decided to go ahead with our performances for those who had come to watch plays,” he said.

When asked if the theatres were not closed due to the fact that the attack was on the Ahmedi community, Zulfiqar said, “No, it is not that we didn’t close theatres because the attacks were targeted at a certain community. We just had a commitment to the people.”

But Zulfiqar also said that there was no government directive to do so, compared to previous terrorist attacks. “When an attack occurs in the city and the government has some law and order issue, we are asked to shut down theatres. This time we weren’t and we went ahead with it,” he said.

The attack was one of the largest of its kind in recent months, leaving 3,000 people trapped for hours.

Zulfiqar also told The Express Tribune that business went down by almost 50 per cent after the attacks. “Saturday and Sunday are ‘pure business days’ for theatres but this weekend revenue declined, as less people turned out to watch plays,” he explained.

Cinemas across the city also kept screening movies after the blast. Pakistan Cinema Management Association Chairman Qaiser Sanaullah Khan reiterated Zulfiqar’s stance. Khan said that no cinema was closed down after the Friday attacks. He told The Express Tribune, “The revenue generated by cinemas across the city remained low after the attacks; however no cinema in the city was completely closed. We did not receive instructions from any government authority or the police to close down cinemas and we could not do it on our own.”

Other events also continued normally. Savvy PR’s Aamir Mazhar told The Express Tribune that they did not postpone events being held during and after the attack. “There is a bakery in Lahore called Hot Fuzon, and it was celebrating its sixth anniversary so we went ahead with the event. Around 350 people actually turned up. People themselves are so fed up with such happenings.”

Mazhar is undecided on whether other events will go ahead. “Another event is coming up next week, and with Monday night’s incident (when four gunmen opened fire on the emergency ward in Jinnah Hospital), we are still thinking whether we should go ahead with it or postpone it.”

Published in the Express Tribune, June 2nd, 2010.

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Reader Comments (9)

  • Salma Ahmad
    Jun 2, 2010 - 7:51AM

    Wow…Its amazing how some people are not at all affected by Friday’s attacks on Ahmadis as your report suggests. Friday’s attacks were not just another episode of terrorism but a well planned attack on a minority who has been experiencing persecution since 1974 by religious parties and other anti-Ahmadi sections. All people are to some extent aware of anti-Ahmadi laws and instead of showing some support some people are going about with their lives, pretending nothing happened. It is time that these ignorant people seek out truth for themselves and protest to the government to repeal such anti-Ahmadi laws…Wake up Pakistan! don’t become so immune to all this violence. Hundreds lost their loved ones and several still await their relatives to get well soon. Recommend

  • Saad Duraiz
    Jun 2, 2010 - 7:55AM

    You really cant blame the cinema owners or the people going out celebrating. Everyone is suffering in this continuous onslaught on our cities, some financially others emotionally. Recommend

  • Jun 2, 2010 - 1:02PM

    How ridiculous! You cannot close down all business and recreational centers because of terrorist attacks. Business situation is in poor shape already. It’s amazing how Pakistanis just jump to every occasion of exploiting their status in the country. It does not however mean that the loss of 90 people is something to just let go off, but we must learn to choose between bad and worse at times.How will closing down cinemas contribute to anything good. The terrorists surely are not going to take any lessons from it. The dead will not come back. The families of those who are dead are not going to feel any better. However, those who are alive and their families are surely going to suffer financial loss.Recommend

  • Salman Malik
    Jun 2, 2010 - 1:38PM

    Another vivid example of double standard: Look at the difference between the number of people protesting for Israeli raid and the ones protesting for the deaths of 95 Pakistanis…
    Shame on us!Recommend

  • Monkey
    Jun 2, 2010 - 1:41PM

    I don’t understand the point of this article. I mean, there have been attacks on Shia mosques for example, and no one has ever insisted that parties/events/plays etc be cancelled. Plus, in the same vein, cable TV operators should also have been told not to screen films (as they are during Ramazan) or not to play music. Should we close offices too so that people just sit home and mourn? Should we ‘impose’ mourning across the country?

    It’s not a double-standard, and this article does not make sense. Another one of those classic “civil society” attempts. The loss of life is regrettable, but if the argument is that we should mourn this loss of life, then cinemas should have been shut for Gojra incident too, for the December blasts at Shia processions, and for various people being killed everyday in Northern Pakistan from unidentified religious sects. Recommend

  • Azeem
    Jun 2, 2010 - 4:11PM

    Unless theres a law that states that cinemas remain close every time there is a terrorist attack i dont see anthing wrong. double standards? I think this article reflects double standards on the writers part.Recommend

  • Masood
    Jun 2, 2010 - 5:52PM

    There is no value of human life in Pakistan. We are a dead nation. Recommend

  • Nony Mous
    Jun 2, 2010 - 9:36PM

    Welcome to the Playstation generation. Depersonalization is our cause of moral degradation. Nobody cares what happens in our neighborhood or our country. It all looks like a game.Recommend

  • saher
    Jun 3, 2010 - 3:55PM

    the poll on the first page is in itself ridiculous.. (no option to comment there)… how can u weigh the seriousness of those two events.. they are equal in magnitude, but opposite in direction. the victims in one are the criminals in other… i am unable to vote!
    The attackers on ahmedis are as good as Israeli, if they want to wipe out all others who don’t share their belief, why blame Israel for doing the same. Recommend

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