Students from 21 universities, under the banner of Student Action Committee Lahore, gathered today at Liberty Chowk to publicly voice their dissent. The streets were lined with hundreds of Police Elite forces which warned the students that they would be arrested if they did not disperse within fifteen minutes. Amidst chants of "NO" to this question of dispersal, student's made it clear that police or no police, they would not disperse without making themselves heard. Students brandishing colorful placards and wearing black armbands flooded the liberty roundabout. Some members of the civil society, the lawyer's movement, doctors, and human rights activists also came to express solidarity and support for the student initiative.
The students sat displaying their banners and placards peacefully while negotiations with the Police SP were made. Afterwards, everyone made a human chain around the enormous roundabout, and chanted anti-Musharraf, pro-judiciary and pro-democracy slogans. After circling the roundabout for half an hour the procession of nearly 600 gathered in the middle, chanting freedom slogans with ever more vigor.
There were speeches made by students from a few of the participating universities, the content of which resonated around the necessity of empowering the common people of Pakistan and putting an end once and for all to the tyranny of the military. The students made it clear that this movement will be a long term struggle to ensure that true democracy is given a chance to take root in the country and that justice prevails. The students made it very clear that no elections can be legitimate without a free and independent judiciary overseeing them.
One demand declared as non-negotiable was the restoration of the judiciary as of 2nd Nov. Without the judicial organ being independent and un-terrorized, it will fail in its function of providing the necessary check and balance on the executive. After the speeches, the national anthem was sung by the all assembled. After this hour long protest, the gathering peacefully dispersed, distributing flyers to the public to educate them of their demands.
What made this assembly remarkable was the level of organization that was evident. Not a single flower was trampled nor any paper trash left behind; the students stuffed their own pockets and bags with the litter instead. Today's protest will not be forgotten easily from the memory of the people of Lahore. Today's country-wide protest demonstrated to the people of Pakistan the unwillingness of the youth of the nation to silently sit through the slow death of their nation.