12 May marks anniversary of rise of Indian Independence Movement against British Raj. On 12 May 1857 (exactly 150 years earlier) Indians have raised against the British Empire and gathered under King Bhadur Shah Zafar. Although the movement was brutally suppressed at that time, the flames were kept alive across the subcontinent and resulted in imperialist exit in 1947.
While India was saluting the martyrs of 1857, Pakistan was writing a new chapter in her history. Pakistan Muslim League (PML – Q), the ruling party, planned ‘Istekam-e-Pakistan’ (stability of Pakistan) rally in Islamabad to show its support for President General Pervaiz Musharraf. While in Karachi Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry scheduled a visit to address bar associations as well as to participate in Sindh High Court anniversary celebrations. Opposition parties, as per their previous routine in other parts of the country, planned to launch welcome rallies and to pick Chief Justice from the airport.
Things started to look bleak when MQM planned a rally on the same date. It was labeled as ‘Peace Rally’ in favour of President Musharraf and against politcizing of Chief Justice issue.
Clashes between political parties were anticipated by the media and it was clearly expressed in news, reviews and on-air discussions. However, provincial government took no heed except closing educational institutions for the day and declaring 12 May as local public holiday.
Unfortunately, things turned out as predicted. More than 30 people lost their lives and hundreds were injured. Dozens of vehicles were burnt, media personnel were beaten up by the mob and AAJ TV was put under attack for more than 6 hours. During all this chaos law enforcement agencies stand on a side, playing second fiddle to the arm wielding, stone pelting mob. I do not want to go into gory details of whole day as the media has repeatedly shown everything.
It is very unfortunate to observe ruling party of the country having good time and celebrating in their rally in Islamabad, while people were getting killed in Karachi. All TV channels showed armed goons moving freely around the city, attacking each other and damaging public property while police and rangers did nothing practical.
Karachities are again left for mourning and suffering since Nishtar Park incident in April 2006.