Amid the tension arising out of the dual anti-government marches in the country’s capital, thousands of people converged at Sharae Faisal - one of the busiest thoroughfares of the city - on Sunday to express solidarity with the 1.5 million Palestinians affected by Israel’s offensive in Gaza.
The rally, dubbed the Gaza Million March, was organised by the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) whose chief, Sirajul Haq, termed it their bid to voice solidarity with the ‘humanity’ that is currently under siege in Gaza.
Around an hour before the designated time for the rally - when a few JI leaders were anticipating a low turnout due to the political turmoil in the capital - a number of vehicles carrying men, women and children seemed to emerge from every nook and cranny of the city to take part in the march. The participants of the rally held Palestinian and Pakistani flags in their hands, as well as handmade posters and placards.
There was perceptible anger towards Israel, as well as compassion for the victims, amongst the participants as Israel’s increasingly bloody offensive in Gaza entered its 41st day, with the Palestinian death toll going past 1,900 and over 10,000 injured.
“I am not even a JI supporter, but I believe the cause for which this rally is organised takes priority over what the other political parties have been busy with in Islamabad,” said 23-year-old Muhammad Rafay, a business administration student at the Iqra University who had affixed a Pakistani flag to his motorbike as he waited alongside the road for the rally to begin. “I do not suggest that we put our internal issues on a back-burner either, but the plight of our Palestinian brothers and sisters comes first at this point in time.”
For Khalid Hussain, a businessman in his mid 30s, participating in the rally was the least he could do to show his anger over the ruthless killings of Palestinians, especially considering the rulers of the entire Muslim world are ‘shamelessly silent’. “The people of Gaza need our strong moral and diplomatic support, but the political parties and rulers of the Muslim world keep on fighting and arguing amongst themselves for their petty gains, rather than uniting and helping those in need.”
The Western press also drew criticism from the rally participants as Safia Abdullah, a media sciences student at the University of Karachi, maintained that the slant in favour of Israel was apparent in the Western print and electronic media - save for a few - who continue to make headlines about the Hamas’ salvos of rockets launched from the Gaza Strip towards Israel, but fail to comment on the starkly disproportional death toll that helps determine who the real aggressors are.
The rally was also supported by other political parties, including Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, Pakistan Peoples Party, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazal, Jamiat Ulema-e-Pakistan, Jamatud Dawa, and Majlis-e-Wahdat-e-Muslimeen, whose leaders joined the rally and addressed the participants.
Meanwhile, Karachi Press Club president Imtiaz Khan Faran also participated to ‘express solidarity with the besieged people of Gaza on behalf of the entire journalist community’.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 18th,2014.