There is something terribly wrong with this picture.
The picture was taken at a protest against the the brutal murder of innocents at Data Darbar in Lahore yesterday. These are protesters at a rally brandishing supposedly ‘toy’ guns to express their anger at the killings and calling for revenge – I say ‘supposedly’ because news reports suggest that actual firing was done by masked gunmen.
What is wrong with this picture is exactly what is wrong not just in Pakistan, but especially in Pakistan: What is wrong with this picture is a validation of violence as a solution.
Addressing a charged protest demonstration outside the Data Darbar on Friday, with over 3,000 emotional participants, the leaders of the Sunni Ittehad Council (SIC) openly advocated violent revenge. Several SIC members vowed to â€˜seek revengeâ€™ for â€˜the attack on Sunni honourâ€™ and urged violence against those responsible. Instigating the cheering and vulnerable mass of participants, Allama Abdul Tawab Siddiqi questioned, â€œAre you a devotee of the saint in name only or do you want to seek revenge and prove your allegiance?â€ Tempers and emotions ran high as the protestors raised their hands in unison, heeding the call and promising to prove their loyalty. Allama Siddiqi then administered them a collective oath. A masked gunman fired a round from the midst of the crowd to mark the end of Allama Siddiqiâ€™s speech and as a symbolic gesture of the crowdâ€™s respect and agreement. … Despite the public declarations and incitement, the protest was not interrupted and the police superintendant present at the scene made no move to arrest any of the leaders or the participants or to stop them.
I had never heard of SIC before. I do not know who SIC speaks for; but is certainly does not speak for this particular Sunni.
I too have been grieved, and pained, and outraged by the brutality of the murders at Data Durbar, just as I had been at the murders of Ahmadi worshipers a month ago, just as I had been at the murders of Christians last August, just as I have been at murders of all Pakistanis anywhere. But I refuse to contaminate my grief with vengeance. I want justice, not revenge.
I will not stoop to the same tactics and similar rhetoric that has brought upon me the grief that I mourn at Data Sahib, at Garhi Shahu, at Gojra. Those in this picture may claim that they share the depths of my grief, my angst, my pain; but I refuse to share the vitriolic of their proclamations, the display of ammunition (real or fake), the calls for violence, the notes of hatred.
I refuse to do so because it is exactly that same vitriolic that has brought us to the sorry point that we have reached. I refuse to do so because this validation of violent vengeance dishonors the blood of those who have been martyred, it discredits the grief of those who have lost their beloved, and it auguments the arguments of those who have do the killing.
I, for one, refuse to be part of any of the above.