I fought terrorism last weekend, what did you do?

Published: June 19, 2014

In my opinion, what we did was absolutely necessary because the government needs to know that we are watching and we will hold them accountable. PHOTO: CITIZENS OF PAKISTAN FACEBOOK PAGE

I promise this blog will not bash Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).

My stance on the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) is extremely straightforward. I strongly feel there is no room for negotiations because there is simply no middle ground. There is nowhere that the TTP can be met halfway. They have two very clear demands – Pakistan must break off all relations with the United States and Pakistan must accept their version of Shariah law.

The first demand might be a matter of foreign policy, but the second is a matter of lunacy. How would these negotiations even go about? What we can do is ban music but can’t ban women from driving cars? There are so many aspects to their version that we really can’t apply in the 21st century.

And let’s not forget that the TTP feels all minorities from Shias to Ahmadis to Hindus to Christians, all are targets. Now, will we give up a piece of our country and gift it to TTP to rule so that they may impose their practices openly on a few Pakistanis before moving south more than they have already?

Another reason why it is impossible to maintain that middle ground is because TTP is unreasonable and not trustworthy. We have seen them, time and again, dishonour peace deals by using that time to consolidate, regroup and then strike back.

Regardless, what is truly beyond reason is that these are the same people that have openly and boastfully admitted killing thousands of our innocent men, women and children. They have beheaded our brave soldiers and attacked hospitals, schools, shrines and places of worship. I, for one, can never come to terms with what they have already done or even consider dialogue – as the thought is cowardly and treasonous. The TTP is a force that must be crushed, not appeased.


On June 8, 2014, when the entire world’s attention was on Pakistan, since Jinnah International Airport was in Karachi, the largest airport of Pakistan in the largest city in Pakistan, was under attack, I realised, and some of my dearest friends agreed, that we were done discussing the issue in drawing rooms. I would consider myself wajib-ul-qatal if I fail to mention my Shiite brothers and sisters that were killed the same day by terrorist outfits.

Photo: Citizens of Pakistan Facebook Page

A day after the attacks, we created an initiative called #FlightTerrorism and our aim was to non-politically pressurise the government to stop negotiating and take stronger action against all those that have been found responsible for aiding, abetting and committing terrorism, may it be the TTP or any other illegal organisation. It is important to mention that this was more my brilliant and dynamic friends than me.

The demand is simple: We do not want the government to consider any organisation, involved in terrorism, as Pakistani or as a stakeholder in Pakistan’s matters. We plead the people of Pakistan to put aside religious differences, sectarian issues and ethnic rivalries, and come together as ‘citizens of Pakistan, to fight for a unified and secular country.

The protest

In a matter of days (four, to be exact) we organised a vigil in honour of those who have lost their lives to terrorist acts, especially in the June 8 attacks, and what a demonstration it was.

Photo: Citizens of Pakistan Facebook Page

We were basically just a bunch of kids (some of us extremely tired and sleep deprived) who woke up on a Saturday afternoon, made some banners and placards with antiterrorism slogans and slogans supporting our brave armed forces, rented a mobile speaker system to play music, and decided to hang out at Do Talwar Chowrangi till Maghrib.

The feelings I had that day were magical!

We were singing Jazba Junoon, asking people to join us by calling out to those in the cars around us; we were fighting terrorism, in our own, small way. Important to mention here is that no roads were blocked and nothing disrupted the traffic or the daily routine in that area.

By Maghrib, after a number of people – including women, children and families – had come and gone and demonstrated with us, we concluded the event by attempting to light candles (failed miserably), sang the national anthem, observed a moment of silence for the brave, and obviously yelled out a few ‘Pakistan Zindabad!’ chants. They always do the trick.

The encouragement

While it was great having people we didn’t know join us and unite for a common cause, it was a little disheartening to realise that a lot of people we expected to see were a no-show. A lot of people see protests or demonstrations as pointless, and it may be valid, but in situations where there is little an ordinary citizen can do, such steps, in my opinion, can be very important. When people step out of their houses and on to the streets to protest, the government sees that and realises that the public is demanding accountability.

In my opinion, what we did was absolutely necessary because the government needs to know that we are watching and we will hold them accountable. Even for the protestors, I am sure this demonstration reminded them of how much they love their country; it definitely reminded me and also made me realise that I have duties as a citizen and I need to fulfil them. Every little thing counts.

Photo: Citizens of Pakistan Facebook Page

The success of our demonstration should not be measured in numbers. Passers-by gave us a lot of encouragement and responded well to the demonstration. People read our signs, honked at us and gave us the ‘thumbs up’, rolled their windows down and told us they were proud of us. Many got off and joined us. The message had reached, the people had noticed and we had made our point. That’s how I know we were successful.

The indifference

While these activities made me ecstatic, I felt quite the opposite the night before. In trying to spread the word, I started to send private Facebook messages to friends on my list. I did a lot of copy pasting and sent a lot of messages – and I mean a lot! Sadly all the messages I sent were ignored. I can’t lie. It did hurt.

During the protest, I tweeted everyone, from Shahid Afridi to Bilawal Bhutto to Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy, to let them know what we were up to. Some people were very kind and responded, others didn’t. Actually, a majority did not. Elie Wiesel once said that the opposite of love isn’t hate, but indifference. Disagree with me, argue with me, attempt to change my mind, but please do not ignore me.

One of the reasons behind the indifference could be that many of us argue (as I mentioned above) that protests take us nowhere. We are indifferent. We refuse to do anything (Shout out to Imran Khan for making people falsely believe in change and then destroying their faith in patriotism. I was lying. Do you think I can do anything without bashing PTI?)

A better tomorrow

Anyhow, we have become apathetic and are anything but resilient. Stubborn maybe, but not resilient, and this is extremely toxic as future prospects look extremely dim with a youth that is desensitised and hopeless.

But I’m hoping things will change now. I’m hoping that due to our protest, people will realise that little steps matter; that, as citizens, we have a few ways to contribute and we should do what we can.

Photo: Citizens of Pakistan Facebook Page

My request to my countrymen is for them to realise that, as citizens of this beautiful country, we need to step up and say something about the state of our affairs. Our country needs us and it is time to accept our responsibility as citizens and do something about it. The state has not been protecting us, might not be doing the best job, but now it is our time to hold ourselves accountable for being quiet for too long.

Enough is enough! It is time to take back what is drenched in the blood of our ancestors!

It is time to support our brave men and women in uniform!

It is time to take back our country!

Pakistan Zindabad!

Pak Fauj Zindabad!

Zarb-e-Azb Zindabad!


Shahryar Khan

A digital marketer and concerned citizen, who tweets @Shahryar92 (twitter.com/Shahryar92)

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

  • SMN

    good to see my generation standing up and doing something, wish the 80s kids had done so but enough of wishing…lets continue with this!Recommend

  • Hamza

    You know something Shahryar? I had read your “I will not vote for Imran Khan” just before the elections and after reading it, I had cursed you and thought of you as stupid and I was delighted to see you getting bashed in the comments section, A year later, I’m sure that me and all those commentators were the stupid ones who believed in Ik’s delusional circus of “Tabdeeli in 90 days”
    Well done! I hope you succeed in this initiative you have taken upRecommend

  • bigsaf

    > “I would consider myself wajib-ul-qatal if I fail to mention my Shiite brothers and sisters that were killed the same day by terrorist outfits.”

    Glad someone would intensely care that much when most have been indifferent.

    But as a request can we do away the ‘wajib-ul-qatal’ fashionable terminology. It seems like it justifies every sort of unlawful insane vigilantism that targets minorities, non-religious individual, or an accused blasphemer or accused criminal, etc on mad persons’ religious rationale, slight or another.Recommend

  • bigsaf

    Glad there’s now some zeal that’s picked up in tackling them militarily when the earlier mood was to sympathize with them or surrender.

    You can’t blame people if they’re not completely sold. The operation does lack scope and planning raising questions of long-term success and achievement like Swat (the original settled area takeover by extremists, before Syria or Iraq). Its not just about civilian costs in trusting such type of operations. Its clearing one set of militants, mostly foreign affiliates, selectively in one area, not all of them in that area (since some are considered ‘good’ despite their shared links and resources to the ‘bad’, difference is they have most terrorist operations not directed on Pak), besides having presence in other parts of Pak, which already have other local extremists groups, where they could scatter to, and this makes people cynical.

    Still…we could view this as glass half full. There’s at least some action, when there was none…Recommend

  • Prashant

    “We plead the people of Pakistan to put aside religious differences, sectarian issues and ethnic rivalries, and come together as ‘citizens of Pakistan, to fight for a unified and secular country”

    Is it not a bit too ambitious Shahriyar. I thought your country was fighting the Taliban in NW as they became a threat for your version of ” Islamic Republic of Pakistan” and now you are saying that not only you want them to be decimated but you want the country to go secular.

    There are around 60 Muslim countries and almost all of them have a state religion. History is not on your side Shahriyar. I wish you all the best.Recommend

  • Noura

    It is very easy for people to criticize the Army while sitting in their comfortable drawing rooms. Going out and fighting the terrorists is a different ball game altogether. We should be grateful to our brave jawans who are fighting to protect us from militants. Salute to armed forces!Recommend

  • fahad

    i would really believe in you if you go and do this on baldia town, banaras chowk or orange town. Standing in an elite neighborhood and playing music and having fun is not how get yourselves heard you need to do hard work man . get out of the utopia you are living in . There is too many vested interests and too many groups trying to milk your country. I sometimes feel i wish Pakistan had oil money or gold money so the people does not have to fight each other like dogs. If Allah Swt wills otherwise , i don’t see any near term solution for all this militancy . I believe in Pakistan army and the surviving middle class population of Pakistan but the politician’s and government machinery a big boo for them . But any ways i am happy a bunch of you enjoyed your week end and doing something for The place loved by all owned by none.Recommend

  • Hueshang Khan Chagtai

    What a noble undertaking. May you stay safe. May God watch over you.
    And may you succeed in your endeavor. Godspeed.Recommend

  • mshaiq

    Wow that end made me tear upRecommend

  • Salman

    I completely agree with you! Thank you so much for writing this. These people don’t represent the vast majority of us. They don’t reflect our values and are going to drag us back into the stone age.

    This operation is the most logical step and most Pakistanis support it!Recommend

  • s m i w

    I didnot like the pti part.Recommend

  • Jamshed Rustomjee

    Cursing someone you have never met simply because he holds a different political philosophy,..speaks volumes about a certain mindset. A frozen juvenile
    peevish attitude. Waxing poetic on subjects you don’t even comprehend. But still jump in, feet first. If necessary, manufacture your own facts. Rather, foot in the mouth analogy.Recommend

  • Genie

    Every calamity people at large suffer is all due to the fact that people leave everything for others to do for them. Is it not bad time people, all people realised that no change will come to them, not until they organised themselves to to join hands with each other to work to bring amity, security, peace and thus progress to their neighbourhood/locality.
    Take it from me that nothing will change for anyone as it never did all these years. Nothing will change, not until everyone changes their attitude and works to become “Resposible Citizens”. Responsible for bringing amity, unity, co-operation thus opening the way for peace and progress for all.Recommend

  • whitesky

    But the Taliban and terrorists are their creations. Why create first and then try to crush them.Recommend

  • Faulitics

    “I fought terrorism last weekend, what did you do?”
    Last weekend, i went to the beach and had a Vanilla ice-creamRecommend

  • Samir

    Title is like saying terrorists fighting terrorismRecommend

  • Samir

    I hope Pakistan will take action against all the militans and will not be selective ..hope action will be taken against Militants who are trained to attack India also..Recommend

  • Hamza

    Do you even know what you’re trying to say yourself? Why did you even go exploding all over this blog?
    It’s better to keep quiet if you can’t understand what the other person is trying to say in the first place.
    Who’s the “someone” you mentioned in your comment?
    If it’s the author then I cursed him at THAT time because I was one of those blind, stupid “Insafians”.
    Go to the blog I mentioned in my first comment and read the comments section over there.
    Or is that “someone” Imran Khan? If yes, then we don’t need to actually meet politicians to realize just how delusional many of them are. We see them on the TV all the time.Recommend

  • Shahryar Khan

    Hi Fahad! That is the long term plan. To have these demonstrations everywhere in Karachi and eventually Pakistan. We want a movement. This was a humble start. Ramazan and Section 144 has slowed us down but big steps soon!Recommend

  • Shahryar Khan

    Hi Hamza! You have no idea how much your comments mean to me. Really appreciate the good wishes. :)Recommend

  • Shahryar Khan

    Hi Hueshang! Thank you so much for your kind words! Really appreciate the encouragement.Recommend

  • Shahryar Khan

    Haha, vanilla? Come on! That’s so boring!Recommend

  • Shahryar Khan

    We got you bro!Recommend

  • Shahryar Khan

    Hi s m i w, I am not the biggest PTI fan, but that was primarily there for comic relief.Recommend

  • Shahryar Khan

    Hi Salman! Thank you for your kind words.Recommend