Where was the tear gas when Joseph Colony burned?

Published: March 10, 2013

Pakistan police teargas protesters. PHOTO: AFP/FILE

I am sitting at the news desk silently taking in all the news reports of protests across Pakistan over the mob burning of more than 150 houses of Christians in Joseph Colony over alleged blasphemy.

“Protesters on Ferozepur road Lahore have smashed a Metrobus office…a large contingent of police charge protesters using tear gas. Suspects being picked up.”

“Protesters in Saddar Karachi have clashed with police…security officials resorting to aerial firing and tear gas shelling. Laathi charge underway. Over 20 arrested so far.”

To see such police efficiency when faced by an enraged crowd is…ironic isn’t it?

Where was this efficiency when the mob attacked the Christian colony on Saturday?

Curse the media all you want, but the hours-long footage and photographs of the Joseph Town attack are an iron-clad record of the inaction of those who are meant to protect us, and the impunity with which men (I saw no women) terrorised a neighbourhood in broad daylight without even bothering to hide their faces.

Keep in mind, the powers that be were well aware that trouble was brewing because a 3,000 strong mob had already visited Joseph Colony on Friday – the day before the massive destruction of property.

That episode began at 1pm and concluded in the evening, at which point, as reported, the police finally reached the spot. This is after the father of the man accused of blasphemy was badly beaten, his house was burnt down and the vehicle of a pastor was damaged.

What did the police do at this stage?

Did they arrest those involved in beating up an innocent old man?

Did they tear gas the mob who burnt property down?

Did they arrest those who burnt the pastor’s car?

Did they arrest the local cleric who said that if the mob finds the accused, they must cut him into pieces?

No. You know what they did?

The police placated the mob by registering an FIR under section 295-C of the Pakistan Penal Code (death sentence) against the accused.

The Christian families in the area were also reportedly shifted out of their homes by the police that same night for ‘safety’.

I think the facts speak for themselves here. I really do not think there is any need to point fingers and ascribe blame for why this incident happened, how it could have been prevented – and wasn’t. All of that was reported and aired two days straight. The guilty – in uniform or otherwise – are in plain sight, some of them waving and smiling.

I guess the only thing I can ask now is: will the honourable Chief Justice take suo motu notice?

Update: he did.

Jahanzaib Haque

Jahanzaib Haque

News buff and Web Editor, The Express Tribune. Jahanzaib tweets @Jhaque_ twitter.com/jhaque_

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • http://gujrat RAW is WAR

    you must be joking. The police would be booked for blasphemy, if they stopped them with tear gas.Recommend

  • Parvez

    Question : Was this blatant land grabbing under the guise of blasphemy, under the umbrella of religion, under the protection of the authorities ?…………..or am I being obtuse ?Recommend

  • http://blogs.tribune.com.pk/author/430/faraz-talat/ Faraz Talat

    I’ve read your previous articles. Though they’re all well-argued, none of them are quite as direct and aggressive as this one.

    I’m glad this topic made you shift from the norm! The matter deserves nothing less than a flurry of tough, straight-forward questions like the ones you asked.Recommend

  • Zohair Ali Nanjiani

    I think the whole civil society fails the oppressed consistently. One aspect of Islam that somehow cannot be taught, understood, accepted, adhered too or enforced. If there is anything one does, can & should learn from this till lack of will allows the feared ‘B’ law to persist, is to intrude proactively before loss of life and property rather than just lament later on. A suggestion for you as a conscientious journalist would be to help institute a blasphemy alert system along with media, lawyers, like-minded politicians and human rights organizatons. As soon as you hear of an accusation, subliminally activate a strategy of protecting the accused’s life as well as the life and property of those of the community and neighbourhood. Media spotlight on police and politicians and mullahs and reinforcing their responsibilities preemptively before an incident has occurred may just prevent itRecommend

  • Shaukat Ali Eshai

    Is this the Pakistan which our beloved Quaid a Azam spoke of ?
    I wonder who would be next.Recommend

  • Haroon Gul

    They are using religion as commodity and for their own evil gains…because they themselves have not studied Islam or even have studied what makes a human..They follow what the ignorant blind bearded mullahs say who have distorted Islam for their own gains and every single breathing aware educated citizen of this country knows that..the inevitable is near..we have entered the dark ages and there is no light at the end of this tunnel..Islam teaches in ways that helped and helps non-muslims embrace it rather than reject..The biggest threat to Islam and being human is not the non-muslims,but these fake hypocrite so-called muslims.Recommend

  • Westerner

    This is insane.

    Based on some hearsay of a Muslim, thousands of fellow Muslims without even questioning the event or allegations marched to the neighborhood of the Christian who supposedly committed blasphemy – which itself is an insult to human intellect and reasoning – and then looted, broke and burned houses of hundreds of unsuspecting and innocent Christians, who had nothing to do with the brawl or the ‘blasphemy’.

    Is it me or do most Pakistani still live in the Middle Ages?

    Unless Muslims find the courage to challenge their religious figures intellectually, and question the excesses of their religion, persecution of minorities in Muslim countries will just go on uncontested. These witch hunts are the natural result of incitement or encouragement of the masses by the ruling clergy. Recommend

  • Sidrah

    Apparently the Muslim accuser of blasphemy was friends with the accused christian. The Muslim allegedly used his christian friend to obtain alcohol and both got drunk. In this state of intoxication the Muslim accuser alleges that he heard the Christian who too was intoxicated utter blasphemous remarks.

    If this is true then I wonder if the mob will be attacking that Muslim accusers house for being drunk or not? Since drinking too is a sin.

    Anyway just those last two pics are enough to thank my lucky stars I’m out of Pak. Just the wild and animalistic hapiness on those people’s faces is too much. Sharam to tum ko magar aati nahi.Recommend

  • Mohsin Bilal

    This is not the first time that such an event happened and police did not notice it. It has been made so easy in our country that in the name of religion any gentlemen can easily be blackmailed in the name of religion. Ironically it is being done in the name of the Rehmat Al Aaalmein (SAW). This practice has shut the dialog and reasoning and ultimately our society is going towards death of intelligentsia. Recommend

  • Gupt Rogue

    If Pakistanis like burning things so much it would be better if they celebrated Diwali and gave an outlet to their instinct for burning in a safe and non violent manner. Recommend

  • Adeel

    Thank God we moved to far-off Canada.. to hell with this country..Recommend

  • manish

    The guy in the second photo seems very pleased with his actions.

    Maybe the next ISLAMIC RAGE BOY, though clean-shaven!Recommend

  • Parvez

    @Adeel:
    …and yet you read about it and comment.
    You can get out of the country……..but can you get the country out of you ?Recommend

  • Advisor

    Its very sad incident …. May Allah guide all of us to become Real Human being.

    @ Dear Author our authorities see everyone equally and they proved it by not doing much for this community.

    Also please stop criticizing its not issue of one religion or community but Humanity so please praise that. Recommend

  • Critical

    Wow,I like the face of that young boy…..This photo speaks a thousand words about the respect Minorities have in Pakistan
    Look at his smile,His heart is full of elation….
    This reminds me of the photo of my friend taken when Dhoni hit a six to win the World Cup…..Recommend

  • gp65

    @Shaukat Ali Eshai: “Is this the Pakistan which our beloved Quaid a Azam spoke of ?”

    Actually yes. Your Qaid led the Pakistan movement whose foundation was that people with different religious beliefs could not live together in one country. His call for Direct Action Day showed that violence was the way to resolve disputes. His commitment to democracy can also be understood by the fact that he did not support universal suffrage or one person one vote.

    Yes, This is Qaid’s PAkistan. August 11 speech was an exception. There are dozens of other speeches and more importantly actions that will support what I am saying.Recommend

  • gp65

    Look at the pictures – outright nauseating. What’s worse is police inaction Recommend

  • GIndian

    South Asia is the only region in the world where mob violence happens because a part of us still live in the 15th century. These type actions can anger American Christian right wingers and in the end Pakistan may have to pay a heavy price. Recommend

  • Sana

    Everyday I checked Pakistan newspapers hoping that there would be a day when we don’t display our horrendous behaviour but sigh, I just keep waiting. Recommend

  • Dee Cee

    @gp65: And, of course, this riot is different from Gujarat’s, because that was a just response in which municipality councilors and senior police official were ‘not’ asked to stay still and let the majority community have their revenge. What is nauseating is the hypocrisy of lionizing a butcher while criticizing other butchers! But then again, conscience is never of any value either for uneducated rioters or for their educated controllers and apologists.Recommend

  • ALi

    @gp65

    Your Quaid led the Pakistan movement whose foundation was that people with different religious beliefs could not live together in one country

    Oh please spare me the nonsense. Quaid advocated equal rights and called for exemplary tolerance for the minorities. Sadly you only tried to twist facts to initiate another india-Pakistan comment war. BTW its Quaid not Qaid. There isn’t just only one name that can be misspelled for funRecommend

  • BlackJack

    The Police should start throwing both the accuser and accused in jail after registering the FIR and release one of them after investigation. Will make the accuser more circumspect and protect the accused until the wild animals find something else to amuse themselves.Recommend

  • gp65

    @Dee Cee: Please stick to the content of this blog. And by the way no riots have occurred n Gujarat for the last 11 years. Cannot be said about Punjab where Gojra had occurred just 4 years back.

    @ALi: “Oh please spare me the nonsense. Quaid advocated equal rights and called for exemplary tolerance for the minorities”

    HE called for Direct action day which was violent and in which 5000 people died. The whole Pakistan movement was on the basis that Hindus and Muslims could not live together in one nation. Please read his speech in Lahore in 1940. And it is a fact that one of Jinnah’s biggest concerns about living in United India was the concept of single person single vote. This is a matter of historical record that your opinion does not change nor does a single speech on August 11.

    As far as spelling – ok so I got it wrong. Many of you get Mahatma Gandhi’s spelling wrong too – spelling it as Ghandi instead. This was not deliberate by any means. Recommend

  • Numan

    Tribune…let’s try and right this wrong……start a fund to rebuild these houses….and let’s rebuild them a thousand times better than they were. This is complete anarchy……shame on Zardari…you went to to a Catholic school….and now their houses get destroyed under your watch!Recommend

  • Zohair Ali Nanjiani

    Really like Blackjack’s idea. Neat & simpleRecommend

  • Sidrah

    I really want to help the victims of both this attack and the Abbas town blast. But in Pakistan It’s so hard to know who to rely on and which charity organisation to trust your money with. If anyone has any idea how the people can be helped please tell me.Recommend

  • opler

    punjab govt seems to be taliban’s political wing this thing prevents me voting PML(N)Recommend

  • http://www.tanzeel.wordpress.com Tanzeel

    tear gas mistakenly opened used against christian comunity.Recommend

  • Gp65

    @BlackJack:
    What you suggest comes under reform of how the blasphemy law is implemented. Sherry Rehman had introduced a private member bill to do just that but the bill never was brought on the agenda after the Taseer murder. Most recently, the Supreme court ordered that a blasphemy petition against Sherry should be registered precisely because she proposed reforms in implementation of the law. In any case, reforms to the law will not stop vigilante action whether against Joseph colony or the girls school that got bunt down or the malanga hat was killed.Recommend

  • ALi

    @ gp65

    He reasoned for Pakistan on the basis of equal rights which the Muslims of the subcontinent back then did not obtain given the cultural and ideological differences. This led to Quaid-e-Azam’s struggle for a Pakistan governed by Muslim majority and equal rights regardless of all regardless of religion, cast or creed.

    You however, have twisted this into intolerance for other religions as basis of Pakistan’s foundation. Why would he then later advocate equal rights for all ?

    HE called for Direct action day which was violent and in which 5000 people died
    You mean murdered right? Surely they didn’t die of sickness. Recommend

  • ALi

    @gp65 August 11 speech was an exception

    What about the one on August 15th. Was that an exception as well?Recommend

  • http://think-islam.blogspot.com PostMan

    Now I get it ..’Naya Pakistan’..
    This time around, we made christians vacate their homes and then burnt it down. Great. We could easily have burnt them alongside the homes but we did not. See? A Naya Pakistan.Recommend

  • Dee Cee

    @gp65: “@Dee Cee: Please stick to the content of this blog. And by the way no riots have occurred n Gujarat for the last 11 years. Cannot be said about Punjab where Gojra had occurred just 4 years back.

    Well, Sir/Ma’am, were YOU sticking to the content of the blog when you were attacking Shaukat Ali Eshai’s faith in the father of his nation? (@Shaukat Ali Eshai: Your Qaid led the Pakistan movement whose foundation was that people with different religious beliefs could not live together in one country.) I guess you will have a separate standard of judgment for yourself and for others. Similarly, Gujarat riots were better than any Pakistani riots, weren’t they? Also, about riots not happening in Gujarat any more, do you want us to thank Narendra Modi for NOT killing his fellow Indian citizens? ‘No riots’ is not an achievement, it is the bare minimum of a civilized society in which all members will have equal rights and will be free of fear. Muslims in Gujarat are unfortunately not free of fear as numerous investigative journalism reports have documented. And, yes, before you repeat the “no riot in eleven years” achievement, consider praising Laloo for no fodder scams in a decade and Congress for no scam in, I don’t know, 6 months, and Rahul Gandhi for not replacing Manmohan yet. You might set the standards rather low for NaMo, and by extension India, but please don’t trumpet that as an achievement! Recommend

  • Alamgir

    Those who did this cannot be Muslims. Pakistan is based on protection of minorities. These people are Indian agents out to defame our beloved Quaid’s country, because they are Hindus, jealous of Pakistan which is better in every way than their stinking country.Recommend

  • Nitish

    Nice country…I m love in it…MC Donald….Recommend

  • Kenneth

    @ Alamgir
    Wow this is the last thing which was remaining to be heard that its work of Indians. Why dont we realise it our own people our neighbours our muslim brothers and friends with whom we work and live are after our lives and property .
    How would you feel if minority in US or UK are treated even though they have nationality of that particular country starts abusing their own nationals .Wont Pakistani muslims be first to raise their voices against all this .
    Secondly they were all Muslim’s my friend you can identify each and every one of them from the pics and the footage .
    @ Mr Haque
    Very good article but unforunately there are no answer’s for your questions coz we live in a country where an opressed is push to the wall to the extent he kills himself .Recommend

  • http://blogs.tribune.com.pk/story/16418/where-was-the-tear-gas-when-joseph-colony-burned/ Khayam beg

    This is so cruel and inhumane,, with such incidents, it looks to me that soon the national flag will turned into full green..i don’t know why this blasphemy issue is exploited that even innocent people are being killed..we are making the minorities to suffer.Recommend

  • Nandita.

    Dee Cee – Good to see a fellow Indian whose thoughts on NaMo mirror mine.Recommend

  • Na

    @gp65:

    You can be atrociously partisan. This blog is not about Jinnah. But let me ask you a few questions. Was only Jinnah bigoted? What about Congress leaders who didn’t compromise on sharing of power?

    Burning of Joseph Town is painful for most of us and let’s rebuild their lives. Here is what some of us can do for our Christian compatriots of Joesph Town:

    The Cecil & Iris Chaudhry Foundation is in the process of setting up a relief camp at Badami Bagh Lahore.

    Immediate requirements are:

    Water / Juices / Milk
    Biscuits / Rusks / Chips (dry foods) etc
    Panadol
    Mosquito Repellents

    We have made arrangements for collection of the above mentioned items at the Tamasha office, 16 C/1-A Gulberg II Lahore.

    For details please contact Cecil S Chaudhry on 03008400602, Farooq on 03004246813Recommend

  • M.Saeed

    @Westerner:

    This reminds of an incident in 1953 when local Martial Law was imposed on Lahore and stinking kinks were straightened out. Enough reasons to reciprocate the same prescription, not only in Lahore, but also in Karachi.Recommend

  • gp65

    @Na, @Dee Cee: You are right this blog isn’t about Jinah. I wouldn’t have said any of what I said -except that I was responding to a specific person that referred to Jinnah whose opinion I disagreed with.Recommend

  • gp65

    ET mods : I am responding to a couple of people who write to me. Please allow.
    @Na: I did not randomly pull Jinnah in the discussion. I was responding to someone who said this is not Jinnah’s Paistan. ANd while I respect your right to differ from my opinion, I am just attackhing an OpEd by Yaqoob Bangash today which mirrors my thought about how the roots of today’s Pakistan are based in its creation. http://tribune.com.pk/story/519125/all-minorities-please-leave-pakistan/ Unlike me, he is a respected Pakistani.

    @Dee Cee: Unlike you who dragged Modi into this, I did not drag Jinah into this discussion. I was responding to someone whose opinion I disagree withRecommend

  • ruby

    This time around, the police at least saved the people by warning them. Be thankful for that.Recommend

  • Nitish

    @Dee Cee: Conscience ,you r talking about conscience…What about 68 kar shevaks burned alive in Godhara…..Who would be held responsible for that….Narendra Modi?If you could instigate then be ready for retaliation ….Muslim in india would have thought thousands time before committing such a mistake….However i agree that their losses were disproportionate for which i hold muslim community responsible…
    Here is all different ball game.Christians or minorities r peaceful community. They r unnecessary persecuted by religious zealots for setting their scores.They r blood thirsty animals.If christian would have burnt muslims in pakistan ,how massive would have been the retaliation my all sympathies were with the muslims.But that is not the case and never will be. Its muslim community who r always aggressor… When retaliated crying foul….Recommend

  • mind control

    @Shaukat Ali Eshai:

    Is this the Pakistan which our beloved Quaid a Azam spoke of ?

    Since it is not the India Gandhi spoke of, it must be the Pakistan Jinnah spoke of.Recommend

  • imtiaz

    I think this is complete failure of Govt. and police department who have complete report’s of what was happening before the incident occurred, and they haven’t taken any measures to stop it. Instead of stoping they asked the inhabitants to leave their homes. Recommend

  • quantum

    @Alamgir:

    Again you are spewing hatred. Start accepting the fact that terrorist act in Pakistan is carried out by Pakistani not Indian or American. The sooner you wake up from your sleep of delusional grandeur, you will start becoming a good global citizen.Recommend