Residents take to the streets in support of not only the Hazaras, but all of humanity

Police admit they may have reacted if the group had marched to Bilawal House.

Our Correspondents February 18, 2013
Several sits-in were organised in nearly 28 spots across the city. The protesters included people of all ages determined to show their solidarity with the Hazaras who were killed in a bomb blast in Quetta on Saturday. The protesters have vowed to continue their strike until their demands are met. PHOTO: REUTERS

SUKKUR/ HYDERABAD/ KARACHI: A few days after the smell of fresh earth brought a smile to residents’ faces, the city once again smelt of burnt tyres on Monday.

Several sits-in were staged in nearly 28 spots of Karachi, while the central protest took place at Numaish Chowrangi to condemn the horrific bomb blast in Quetta that claimed more than 80 lives on Saturday. All highways out of the city and all routes to the airport were also inaccessible as the police threw teargas shells to disperse the protesters in Malir, Natha Khan Goth, Drigh Road, Patel Para and Pehlwan Goth.

In Clifton, a group of residents also gathered to show solidarity with members of the Hazara community. Anticipating that the protesters will move towards Bilawal House, the law enforcers moved in huge containers and blocked all roads leading to the president’s house.

The protesters, who were determined to show their support to the members of the Hazara community, gathered at Teen Talwar instead. They comprised people of all ages, who brought their floor mats and edibles in what appeared to be a sit-in that would last days.

Initially, a minor scuffle broke out between the protesters and the policemen when the former tried to stage a sit-in on Bilawal House Chowrangi. “Be it Bilawal House or Teen Talwar, we will protest at any cost,” said Syed Asad Abbas Jafri.

Most of them learned about the protest through text messages and the social media and decided to take to the streets. “It is not just about the Shia community but about all of humanity,” said the president of Pakistan Women Foundation for Peace, Nargis Rahman.

They were determined to protest until the government fulfils their demands. “Eighty-six people died there, so what if 86 die here as well? We will not move,” said Nayyar Abbas. “They [the law enforcers] are telling us to move, there is a female suicide bomber coming from Neelum Colony.”

Even comedian Ali Gul Pir arrived at the site to show his solidarity. “I don’t believe in any sect, ethnicity or anything else other than humanity,” he told The Express Tribune. “I decided to join the protest so maybe others can join in too.”

Meanwhile, the policemen insisted that they have deployed more personnel for the protection of the protesters and they don’t plan on taking action against them. “If they had tried to go to Bilawal House or become violent, then we would have taken action,” said a policeman, Muhammad Muslim.

The rest of the city also wore a look of mourning as various political and religious parties, transporters and business associations supported the strike call. The police have arrested more than three dozen suspects who torched vehicles, public property and fired at law enforcers.

Sindh police’s spokesperson SSP Imran Shaukat said that the police have been in touch with Shia leaders and scholars and are hoping that the sits-in will end by Monday night. He admitted that they have no strategy to deal with the protests if they continue for days.

Meanwhile, supporters also took to the streets in Thatta, Hyderabad, Jamshoro, Matiari, Benazirabad, Pannu Aqil, Shikarpur, Jacobabad, Kashmore, Kandhkot, Khairpur and Larkana districts. Hyderabad bypass was blocked after hundreds of men, women and children staged a demonstration. However, routine activities in Hyderabad were not hampered, as markets and schools remained open.

Business centres and markets remained deserted in Sukkur, after the Sukkur Organisation of Small Traders supported the strike call.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 19th, 2013.


AnisAqeel | 8 years ago | Reply

When any government or military involves religion to extend their stay in power and give in to the cleric to receive political favors, the result is guaranteed what we see today. If our assemblies pass rulings to decide peoples faith just to gain temporary political relief on the pressure of any foreign governments we must not cry on the spilled milk now except to realize the wrong done and wipe out these laws evenhandedly.

Silent no more | 8 years ago | Reply

Unspeakable tragedy! The nation needs a plan of action to eliminate this scourge of violence the has stunned the nation beyond disbelief and the shameless ignorance of all the political parties! What Pakistan needs is a leader with educated, competent and ethical team with resolute resolve to bring meaningful and measurable change!

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