Of the 15 million people in Karachi, around 100 concerned citizens gathered at the press club to protest against perpetual violence in the city.
The demonstration was organised by the Concerned Citizens Forum (CCF), a pool of 65 civil society organisations, and several members of the civil society also participated. Retired judge Fakhruddin G Ibrahim, Human Rights Commission of Pakistan co-chairperson Iqbal Haider, and Dr Riaz Ahmed of the University of Karachi were among those present.
Participants at the front row carried banners. “Stop making Karachi a city of widows and orphans” was inscribed on one of them.
A dozen copies of the Socialist clutched to his chest, Ahmed tried hard to keep the enthusiasm through his innovative slogans. Iqbal Haider supported some protesters’ call, to call the army in. “Aren’t the Rangers and Frontier Constabulary personnel paramilitary forces?” he asked. “The army can also be called to control specific situations like that in Karachi.”
Yet the slogan “Ye jo dehshatgardi hai, Is ke peeche wardi hai” (The army is behind terrorism) was greeted with perceivably less enthusiasm. In an amusing coincidence, five boys stuffed in a passing by rickshaw hooted, “Humen foj chahiye bhai…!” (We want military deployment).
“It is a well established fact that all three coalition partners run their own terrorist cells,” said Haider. In order to seize more power and land, they have been involved in mafia fights.
However, the official stance of the CCF, as stated by Convener Nargis Rehman, was quite clear that the army should be kept away and a democratic government should try and control the situation.
Justice Ibrahim, however, felt that maintaining law and order is the government’s first responsibility. If it fails in doing so, it has no right to rule.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 21st, 2011.