Stories about protests

Is it democracy you fight for?

In the biting, freezing, numbing cold Men, women and children collect together Fired up with the zeal, energy and adrenaline Coursing through their veins To support….   A vague thought, a very hazy concept. Democracy? Ideals? Hope for a better future? Security? Few know, understand or comprehend themselves   The reason That makes them fervently chant the names Or raise the collective voice That they are chanting and raising. Or the rationale behind why they have put   All their cards on the table, so blindly, Yet again. The leaders, however, merrily play With human emotions, feelings and pride.   For sport, it seems. They gleefully gamble with the frail hopes And fragile confidence That these masses have in these new sailors Who vow ...

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The bomb blast that shattered my life

“Bhai jaan, there’s been a blast here!” These were the words uttered by my injured little brother as he managed to call me for a brief moment, before the line dropped. What followed were perhaps some of the darkest moments in my life, characterised by feelings of intense hurt, hatred, helplessness and a river of tears, so overwhelming that it took me more than three years to muster the strength and courage to put those memories down on paper. For the past 40 years my family (a mixture of Shias and Sunnis – if you must use those titles) has been gathering on the ...

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The anti-Malala propaganda

A protest by students against the renaming of Saidu Sharif Degree College after the 15-year-old peace activist, Malala Yousafzai, was no surprise to me. The demonstration by female students shocked those who adore the iconic activist. However, the dissent was a result of a planned conspiracy against Malala. Ever since Malala received the National Peace Award from the prime minister, a group which roots itself along religious lines swung into action and criticised the young girl for receiving unnecessary importance.  On October 9, when she was shot by unidentified assailants, public opinion against Taliban brutalities reached a new high. Malala had ...

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Reasoning out September 21, 2012

Two months ago, chaos hit the country after a controversial video was publicised on the Internet and provoked some men to take to the streets, causing destruction to public property and endangering lives. I had the rare opportunity to interview bright, highly-motivated children studying in a school operated by The Citizens Foundation (TCF). The children attend an after-school programme called the Academic Achievement Programme, which provides guidance and helps students reinforce learning in the subjects of math and English. It was engaging and somewhat settling to read their responses to the questions I asked, despite the fact that most of them ...

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A protest through the eyes of a journalist

Nothing is more dangerous than a mob that gets carried away by religious fervour and frustration. It can be equally threatening to report about such a mob as a journalist. On September 21, the day the whole country shut down to condemn an anti-Islam video, there were mad men out on the streets bent upon destroying public and private property. They seemed to be having fun — raising slogans and cursing the US. For a reporter, it is easy to be swept away by the sheer energy displayed by boys wielding sticks and bricks. Karachi offers a lot of action in ...

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Do you realise how damaging protesting is to the economy?

Another Friday, another protest. This week, much like last, Aabpara remained empty, except for the few adventurous shoppers who were willing to risk the excitement of walking amid religiously-inspired protesters, the same kind of protesters who did so much damage to other Muslims’ lives and property last week. After last week’s disaster, the peaceful lawyers’ march to the embassy to present a resolution of condemnation was a welcome change, although I still think burning flags accomplished nothing. Peaceful or not, protests, or even rumours, have seemingly become enough to instil fear in the hearts of small business owners in areas favoured ...

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I refuse to lose my religion!

What about the rest of us? Meaning the living; those of us who have to make a living, those who have to get to work despite knowing that there is a fair chance we might get shot at for not showing enough solidarity. How do you express solidarity through violence for a system that is about peace in times of chaos, anyway? I was supposed to be angry today. I was, still am. I am fuming, in fact, because I work for a newspaper and part of my job is to be at work come hell or high water. I managed to do ...

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You can’t defend the Prophet (pbuh) by torching your own city!

Blasphemy is a sensitive subject, especially in Pakistan. A topic so sensitive that it can get governors killed after a cup of coffee, ministers shot after they drive out of their homes and 12-year-old children behind bars for ‘allegedly’ committing it. Victims of blasphemy cases in Pakistan sign their death warrants. Why does it then come as a surprise to know that more than 15 people were killed and 219 wounded in protests across Pakistan yesterday? Because this time, rampant damage was caused to property and life of people who had nothing to do with it. Life and property belonging to the Muslims. Calls for peaceful protests on ...

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Violent protests: Islam taught us better

Sir, it was 1995, North Medical Ward of Lahore’s Mayo Hospital, where you famously said in your English-Punjabi accent, “Putter ji, batti uthay balo, jithay hanaira howay” (Son, light a candle where it’s dark). You didn’t want your students to go abroad after completing medical school. You wondered what difference we will make in America, where, compared to Pakistan, there were abundant doctors; where there was so much light. I left, however, as I had no choice, sir. Yet you had a point ─ a point that haunted me whenever I earned a new degree, another publication, or an accolade. For years, the ...

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Anti-Islam provocation and protest: Why react?

Last week’s attack at the diplomatic enclave in Islamabad over the US-made anti-Islam video brought back the memories of disappointment. It took me back to my Karachi University (KU) days in 2005, to the cartoon controversy and the frenzy it generated among Muslims. Students would come to classes only to be sent back home, while other students joined the cause and protest. Of course, KU protests were not as violent as the ones in Islamabad, but the intensity was the same. While it was evident that the protesters were hurt, I failed to understand why they further hurt themselves. We lost ...

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