Dawn News

Police chase protesters during an anti-U.S. rally in Peshawar, Pakistan, Friday, Sept 21, 2012. — Photo by AP

Friday which was designated by the government to demonstrate love of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) and condemn the anti-Islam video produced in the US by some extremists was hijacked by our home-grown extremists who turned it into a day of unbridled violence, killings, arson and robbery.

At least 23 people were killed and over 200 injured and violence in some places continued till late in the night.

The internal security system virtually collapsed, giving way to tens of thousands of violent protesters to rule the streets in several cities, from Peshawar and Islamabad to Lahore and Karachi, burn down shops, cinema houses and police vehicles, and ransack whatever else that came in the way.

For most part of the day it was complete anarchy in several cities, including the federal capital, leaving a trail of death and destruction in large parts of the country.

Highly charged, and in places armed and well-equipped, the protesters tore down barricades, removed or overturned huge containers that had been put up by the authorities to block main thoroughfares, and to protect government buildings and diplomatic compounds, and set ablaze government and private property.

Within a matter of a few hours it became quite evident that the ill-equipped and poorly trained, and perhaps ill-motivated, police force was not in a position to push back the violent protesters.

The extensive use of tear gas and rubber bullets proved futile as in many cases the riot police had to take the beating with protesters throwing back the tear gas canisters and stones at them.

As violence intensified in places like Peshawar and Karachi, riot police first fired live ammunition in the air, and then at places directly into the crowd. In Peshawar and Karachi, and some other places, several bystanders and journalists got trapped as protesters and police clashed, using bricks, stones, tear gas and even live ammunition. There were deaths and injuries on both sides, with a number of people, including member of a television crew, becoming victim of this madness.

FALSE COMFORT: The anarchic scenes witnessed during the later part of the day were much in contrast to the way the country looked early in the morning. As the day dawned, the streets in almost all the cities were virtually deserted, giving the false impression that the call by the government for a public holiday and peaceful protest may encourage the general public, as well as the protesters, to remain confined to their homes.

The authorities had taken extraordinary measures in Islamabad, Peshawar, Lahore and Karachi by bringing in scores of containers, tankers and trucks to block avenues and by-lanes leading to the American and other diplomatic missions, and offices of senior government functionaries.

By switching off mobile network in 15 major cities and with the deployment of huge police and paramilitary force, the authorities seemed convinced that the day would pass off peacefully.

But the planners and perpetrators of violence had other plans.

The trouble started early in the day from Peshawar. As Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf was addressing an officially called convention in Islamabad, condemning the anti-Islam movie and making a passionate appeal for calm, hundreds of supporters of religious parties had started to attack and set ablaze shops and cinema houses in the capital of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.

But the real wave of violence in the country started soon after Friday prayers. Initially it appeared that the rallies that were being taken out by religious groups ranging from Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam, Jamaat-i-Islami, Sunni Tehrik and Majlis-i-Wahdatul Muslimeen, as well as some mainstream political parties, might remain peaceful.

However, within no time many militant members of various groups, with sticks and other blunt instruments in their hands, started to make their way towards the police barricades.

Reports gathered from all over the country suggest that the pattern was almost the same: first try to penetrate through the barricades on foot or motorcycles, and on finding little resistance, bring down the containers to allow the processions to enter what were officially described as high security ‘red zone’.

At other places protesters found public and private property like police kiosks, cinema houses, shops and cars as easy target. Gradually violence started to spread to large parts of these cities, with police looking completely helpless and other law-enforcement agencies appearing like silent spectators.

As a number of leaders of religious groups defended the public anger and blamed the government for not doing enough to condemn the West, government leaders like Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira strongly condemned the perpetrators of violence. He even criticised the electronic media for its live coverage of violence which, according to him, helped in instigating trouble in most parts of the country.

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Comments (52) Closed

Sep 23, 2012 01:56pm
The root cause is ignorance, extremism, illiteracy, intolerance and fanaticism.
Sep 22, 2012 12:34pm
It is too late.
Sep 22, 2012 10:03am
the state has to crack down on these militants, they should not be allowed to get away with such wanton destruction. These people think the law does not apply to them. If necessary shoot to kill.
Sep 22, 2012 10:16am
I am really shocked to see everyone criticizing the protestors instead of the so-called leadership of the Islamic countries. If the leadership of Islamic countries would have banned the film and jointly ask US to remove the film otherwise they Islamic block have right to even not finished but at least suspends all kind of relations. Certainly, these steps have lessen the emotions of the people. Unfortunately, the US touts can never dare this. Then what should a common man do, he should have restored to these protests and get violent. For a true muslim we cant compromise on the defamation of our beloved Prophet (PBUH). We love our country but not more than the Prophet (PBUH).
Sep 22, 2012 10:20am
Raghu S Johar
Sep 22, 2012 02:33pm
Film makers may be laughing at the sheer madness of protesting by Pakistani people, killing each other, destroying their own property and reinforcing the belief of people that Islam has become a religion of intolerance and violence. Producers of this shameless film achieved their nefarious designs.
Sep 22, 2012 12:12pm
Usually the converts are more religious as they are slaves who have to prove their loyalty to the masters.
Sep 22, 2012 04:20pm
That sounds about right. It was a sad sight to see how the Pakistanis were destroying their own property in the protests held on Friday. Can't the sane ones amongst them stop others who are hellbent on destroying public property? I, for one, would be willing to carry around a baton/stick and beat up the protesters engaged in arson, destruction of property, and other illegal activities.
Sep 22, 2012 03:14pm
Pakisthan is moving in a wrong direction. The violent protest does not give a good signal to the other parts of the world. It will isolate this country
Sep 22, 2012 03:19pm
Never too late! Hope should never be given up.
Sep 22, 2012 09:41am
Reminds me of some American diplomat who a few years ago very rightly said: Pakistan is the only country that negotiates with a gun held to its own head
Sep 22, 2012 06:20am
It is very very sad to understand how an ordinary pakistani man and worman and children feel and helpless .. It is nothing sort of the collapse of governance ..
Sep 22, 2012 11:41am
The live of the HOly Prophet should impliment in their live.
Sep 22, 2012 11:34am
Mr Khurram - So destroying public property and killing innocent bystanders is a way to express love for Prophet ?Can't the protests be held peacefully ? Its a shame you are not ashamed.
Sep 22, 2012 11:26am
I wonder why Pakistanis are killings Pakistanis for a film produced by some American? This is shear madness killing innocents.
Sep 22, 2012 11:26am
So destruction of life and property of fellow Muslims is how to show our protest against a thug in the USA? we do no see such violence even in Saudi Arabia! Do they love the prophet any less?
Sep 22, 2012 10:38am
It's failure of Govt. It was their responsibility to protect civilians and their property.
Sep 23, 2012 07:25pm
Not only illiterates but also well educated including some lawyers and our leaders, talk show hosts, and now I hear one of our minister offerering bounty to kill the movie maker.This nonsense should be stopped.
Sep 23, 2012 07:09pm
Govt. should not have declared this day as holiday. This only gives some, the encouragement to do what they did. This was motivated to get votes for upcoming election and to appease the mullas and the fundamentalists. There should be counter demonstration by decent people of Pakistan which are in majority. In Libya there are now counter demonstration to stop this madness. Our Govt. is only sort of promoting it.
Sep 23, 2012 02:20am
Salaman said " something went wrong in the heart of islam"...
Sep 22, 2012 06:07am
Shame on you both President Zardari and PM Ashraf playing your role as chief executives of PAKISTAN .You both did a good job by doing nothing (before & after) this unfortune and sad day of violance .Wow what a great a way of showing your failed leadeship to this country called Pakistan. You have shown again that how much you don't care about this country except for own interest . If you have a little dignity left in you RESIGN NOW.
Sep 22, 2012 05:55am
So many reasonable persons are protesting a statement (in terms of a trailer) made by a cranky (can also be mad who knows) person in a foreign land and so many innocent lives are lost. Come to think about it. Can there be anything sadder than this? A human life is most valuable to Allah. Spilling human blood for no reason would be a sin non-comparable.
Gerry D'Cunha
Sep 22, 2012 09:43am
is this the way to show solidarity to islam? wake up liberal muslims and speak-up before it is too late
saira jamal
Sep 22, 2012 05:44am
shame on government, shame on police, why this done with people police used tear gas, stones etc.. Are they Muslims ........Many people die, injured who is responsible for this act.......
Sep 22, 2012 05:44am
while the anti Islam film is grotesque but what has one evil mans work got to do with the 3 police officers who died. killing has become so easy. I wish some genuine leader would come and take over our country to stop the anarchy. I want my pakistan back from the jahiylia people.
Sep 22, 2012 04:42am
WOW !!!! what passion for religion ..... I wish all other religions will show the same passion ... will make the world a peaceful place
Nashib Hashmi
Sep 22, 2012 04:40am
Height of insanity. Are we humans or animals?
Sep 22, 2012 05:23am
Hmm.....how easy it was to blame Pervaiz Musarraf for everything.
Sep 22, 2012 05:15am
George Washington once said "If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter." Welcome to Pakistan
Aamir Khan
Sep 22, 2012 05:07am
so much for being peace loving --------------
Sep 22, 2012 05:06am
Absolute Jahalat which would have been condemned by the prophet if he was living today. HE would have never allowed it to happen. He forgave all during his life time. Is this theIslam we are portraying ?
Sep 22, 2012 07:19am
What are we doing? Who are these people? Is the respect we are giving to our beloved Prophet? Did he taught us to do all this? What a shame!
Sep 22, 2012 04:36am
Good Show Pakistan! ................................................. Keep it up............................ Shame on you as you are burning, looting and killing your own people.................. in the name of Allah....................
Sep 22, 2012 04:28am
Destruction of own property, for a film made in US ?? does this going to harm US anyway ??..why aren't Middle-east Countries protesting Violently ?? No doubt, Islam is led by Corrupted & Hate-loving leaders in this place...why can't Islam find leader's who protest Peacefully, which could be a Slap on the face of criticizing WEST...
Sep 22, 2012 04:24am
What was govt thinking when announcing the public holiday? they should have known this will happen. Nowhere else in the world any govt announced a public holiday. Cartoonist is probably enjoying his breakfast and coffee while watching on tv that people in pakistan are killing each other in the name of the love of prophet.
Sep 22, 2012 04:11am
So... who is really in control of the country? And what is the true face of Islam... What was seeing yesterday or the peaceful protests promised?
peace lover
Sep 22, 2012 04:09am
Why destroying own property killing own people for wrong doing of someone who is sitting in US?
Sep 22, 2012 04:08am
Some love for the prophet and some way to show it! Is Pakistan beyond redemption?
Sep 22, 2012 04:02am
Do you still think Rehman Malik showed remain in power. If your answer is yes then do not complain at all.
Sep 22, 2012 04:02am
Secondly what is the loss to GDP due to this kind of useless stuff?
Sep 22, 2012 03:59am
Someone in US made the movie. Pakistani people protested on the movie and 23 pakistani died at hands of pakistani. Is there something wrong here? The guy who made the movie and other nothing happened to them (and nothing should happen to them) but for no reason 23 pakistani died?
Ram Krishan Sharma
Sep 22, 2012 03:59am
Is there No peaceful way of protesting against the video made by one individual who was born and bread in Egypt and then emigrated to US ? The American government has no hand in making this film and more over they cannot change their constituion which allows freedom of speech to please the followers of All the religions of the world.
Sep 22, 2012 03:55am
This is the behavior of the people who practice a religion which they call religion of peace & justice. The whole world is watchinh this madness with grim & sadness.Let goodsence prevail.
Sep 22, 2012 03:54am
oh come on people of Pakistan...the creators of the movies/cartoons in question must be rolling on the floor laughing at these activities of Pakistanis and muslims all over the world!
Sep 22, 2012 08:46am
Nice move by the Pakistani Government to declare a day like this. Even the Saudi Arabia, who is True Islamic in its core did not declare a day like this why Pakistan???? Anyway, how many of these even have seen that Movie, that movie look more like a cartoon movie...
Sep 22, 2012 08:33am
They don't care GDP , they only care for their beloved prophet...
Sep 22, 2012 08:52am
Media should be banned in Pakistan
Sep 22, 2012 08:51am
I am so amazed with all the comments.... Why not we questioned our self why this happens??? What was the root caused...??? We are just pretending that we are ashamed ... I am not ashamed ... I am just sorry to those families who lost their loved once on that day ... I am only ashamed on the ill-minded people who planned to un-rest all of us with their ill-minded thoughts which they presented in the movie ... and oh people remember PAKISTANI Muslims loves Nabi Pak (PBUH) more than any Muslims country in the world...
Sep 22, 2012 08:48am
May be Human looking Animals :)
Sep 22, 2012 04:55am
stunned and surprised on why are we hurting ourselves. This is just rediculous.
Sep 22, 2012 12:12pm
This is so sad. Protests for the love of prophet has a large crowd, but there are not even half of that crowd in fajr prayers in Pakistan. Makes no sense to me. The person made the movie is having a blast and Pakistanis are killing each other because some one made a movie against the prophet. Can the mullahs of Pakistan tell me how exactly is the person that made the movie being punished by killing our fellow Muslims brothers and destroying Muslim families and Muslim properties?
Sep 22, 2012 09:45am
Ishq-e-Rasool(pbuh) ? Some Ishq. We'll be lucky if the Prophet(pbuh) doesn't disown us on the day of judgement.