Protest is a right…. but NOT like this

Posted on December 7, 2007
Filed Under >Owais Mughal, Photo of the Day
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Owais Mughal

This photo is from today’s Dawn. It shows protesting lawyers damaging public property in Multan.

The ability to protest against that which they consider unjust is everybody’s right. But there is a fine line between peaceful protest and anarchy. Damaging property is definitely wrong and serves no one’s interest. It certainly does not serve the interest of the lawyers movement for democracy.

Violence is clearly wrong. It becomes no less or no more wrong when it is committed by protesting lawyers than when it is done by government against the same protesting lawyers. Just as we have called out against violence committed against protesters by government agencies, we must also call out aginst violence committed by them.

Anger is neither a strategy nor an excuse. The principle is a clear one: Wrong is wrong, no matter who does it and no matter why.

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117 responses to “Protest is a right…. but NOT like this”

  1. Kruman says:

    It is not the same. Musharraf was the head of a half million army, with the entire state apparatus on his side when he beat the lawyers black and blue. A strong person in position of power needs to have a big heart and he should let people vent their feelings by shouting slogans against him.

    I regret the violence in Multan, but these were unarmed people who were going to get beaten like crap anyways. They though what the heck, let’s give the police a taste of their medicine ( this is a legacy of Musharraf’s rule). You can’t just blame the symtom here, you need to look at the root cause of this behaviour.

    Again, while the violence is regrettable, the violence unleashed upon lawyers and journalists by Musharraf’s gestapo was far worse and brutal. Even in this case (Multan) I blame police more than lawyers. Police had no business entering the district bar and court premises. They should’ve stayed out and let the lawyers protest peacefully.

  2. SUhail says:

    And this is what we called

  3. Azmat says:

    The behavior of these few lawyers and of those who support their violence will defeat the real power and purpose of the lawyers movement. This movement is important because it has been peaceful even in the face of violence by government. We must not respond to violence by violence, otherwise we will become no better than the police thugs. Reports suggest that the police had started the violence, but as you say that is no excuse. We must be better than them. We must not respond to police violence by violence. Till now the lawyers have had the moral high ground because they have restrained themselves against police high handedness. They must remain the same. What we see here is clearly wrong but let us also say that as your past posts show the violence till now has come nearly always by the state and not by the lawyers.

  4. RH Shimatoree says:

    The dynamics of an impending revolution are in place.
    Soon the Police will not beat the protestors but join them, and they shall be followed by the soldiers who do not wish to fight and kill their own people . And to know that Musharraf and Benazir and other Politicians are missing as to what is really going on can only be called pathetic . The anger level is very high and once the frustration reaches it’s peak- anything is possible. Rather than passing judgements- the comment writers should provide analysis from their point of view. It means nothing if someone says SHAME or raises the issue of Pakistan’s reputation in the world. What matters is the dynamics of the situation and the reactions of those that might be able to modify the situation.

  5. temporal says:

    i wrote about this too today


    lawyers abandoning the law!

    as the english say, “pity”!

  6. PurePakistani says:

    This one incident or a few like this do not represent the peaceful movement of Pakistani lawyers. Is it not true that they have savagely been beaten, humiliated and jailed since the uprising. If emotions occasionally overflow, it is natural . After all lawyers are human too. Instead of dedicating an entire post to it, ATP should have presented it in the right context.

  7. PurePakistani says:

    I would like to add that the young lawyer in the picture is not breaking some one’s bones or cracking skulls. He is simply attacking a symbol of repression.

  8. Daktar says:

    I do not understand what people mean by things like “lawyers are human too.” By saying this are you saying that violence is justified because it is human. This is a dangerous argument. If you justify violence by these lawyers, no matter what reason, then logically someone could justify the much greater violence by the state and the police. How can their violence by wrong and our violence right? Since the state always has a great capacity for violence than citizens (except, maybe, in case of terrorist activity) this is a very dangerous argument. If we are against the violence by the state then we must also be against violence in retaliation. Otherwise as someone said we lose moral high ground. It would be wrong, for example, to justify the violence by a policeman on the ground that this was just the human reaction of someone who got tired of people hurling abuse and slogans and taunts at them. Similarly, it is wrong to justify this violence as human. I hope we are better humans than this.

    It is right that the lawyers movement has been mostly peaceful and has held the high moral position while state violence has been constant and continuous. But this does not justify the violence by the downtrodden.It is only a reminder that we must not allow the state, through its violence, to fall to their own level and repeat the same brutality that we have been objecting against.

    I am glad that ATP has highlighted this. After having written so often about the state’s violence it would have been hypocritical and one-sided to have ignored this. This violence does not in any way undermine the righteousness of the lawyers movement. It is only a reminder to all of us that we must not let the brutality of the state to force us to stoop to their level. We must remain above that and better than that.

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