Saturday, December 15, 2007

Account of Saturday Rally in Karachi

pix up at
- Well done, all those who worked so hard on getting together a show
of strength in Karachi. It went smoothly & peacefully. The only
downside was that the hired pickup with speakers leading it often went
too fast (maybe pushed by the police who wanted the rally to end
quickly) and that the event coincided with the Irtiqa seminar on the
judiciary held at the Press Club (because of the rally date change),
presided over by Minhaj Barna (who launched his book of poetry right
before the Live with Talat event).

Protesters started to assemble at Regal Chowk at around 4:00 pm.
Within minutes the crowd swelled up to a few hundred under the
watchful eyes of a dozen or so policemen. Participants shouted slogans
against Musharraf and the Emergency and called for the restoration of
the judiciary and media freedom. One constable watching the spectacle
of diverse flags (including several Pakistan flags) and placards
amidst the din of traffic and full-throated slogans told a journalist,
"In our hearts we say the same thing as you. But what we are on duty
and we can't join you."

The diversity of the participants cut across the divisions of right-
and left-wing politics, ethnicity, class, education and gender. People
from various walks of life present ranged from lawyers, doctors,
engineers, journalists, writers, to labourers, students, and
housewives, as well as the families of the victims of enforced
disappearances in Balochistan, brought to the rally by Baloch Students
Organization (BSO) Azad and their dynamic chaddar-clad central
executive committee member, Karima Baloch.

Several political parties participated, including Pakistan
Tehreek-e-Insaf, Awami Tehreek, PML-N (Shazia Faizi), National
Worker's Party (Yusuf Mastikhan and Usman Baloch), Labour Party of
Pakistan (LPP, Nasir Mansoor), International Socialists, Communist
Mazdoor Kissan Party(CMKP), Pukhtoonkhawa Milli Awami Party (PMAP),
Jamat-e-Islami, and Shabab-e-Milli. Other groups included Islamic
Lawyer Forum, Railway Workers Federation, the Human Rights Commission
of Pakistan (HRCP), Aurat Foundation, Women's Action Forum (WAF),
Democratic Labour Action Committee, and the PC Workers Union.

Police officers initially refused to allow the rally participants to
make their way in a procession through the crowded Saddar area to the
Karachi Press Club barely a kilometer down the road, but had obviously
been briefed not to use force. After some negotiations, they allowed
the rally to proceed.

An interesting mix of slogans was heard as leftist and right-wing
parties marched sided by side, ranging from "Asia Surkh Hai!" (Asia is
Red) to religious-oriented slogans. Participants held up placards
featuring images of Che Guevara, the 'non-PCO judges', and the
'disappeared'. "This is the essence of democracy," remarked a

Akbar Shah, an elderly tourist guide in a shabby shalwar kurta and
tennis shoes standing on the sidewalk raised his hands in appreciation
as the rally turned towards the Press Club and talked aloud to
himself, "Go Musharraf go, so nice, good slogans."

Enthused by the crowd, he accompanied them to the Press Club where
leaders from various parties addressed the gathering from the back of
a hired pick-up vehicle. They condemned the illegitimate usurpation of
power by Musharraf and urged for the restoration of Judiciary which
can be the corner stone for the return of democracy in Pakistan.


Anonymous said...

great to hear of some activity in Karachi... how can we even think about making this a mass movement without taking along that massive city.

Kudos also to the unity shown by groups holding differing ideologies. Truly, the left vs. right debate has become completely outdated. The issues today are more basic: whether government would be completely arbitrary or subject to the rule of law?

And here, both the right and the left are agreed. As to the further demand of reviving the constitution, there too the 73 constitution upholds both Islam and social justice; neither can be severed off. The fight today is about both of them and thus the divisive attitude of the 70s generation can well be left behind

Looking for Ritzy Red Ghararas said...

Quite a positive development in the last few days. with the biggest city involved in the current resistance movement, optimism of the future only grows more. Well done Karachi!