LAHORE: A large number of people gathered on The Mall on Tuesday to protest against Talibanisation and posted a letter to the president, prime minister (PM), chief of army staff (COAS), and chief justice (CJ), demanding action against the spread of Taliban power. Protesters included human rights activists, artists, students, journalists, teachers and representatives of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM). Participants of the protest said the citizens were concerned about the state of their homeland.
Demands: They said the protest was aimed at sending a clear message to all state institutions – ‘Say no to Talibanisation’. They said the country’s sovereignty could not be compromised under any circumstances, adding that the democratically elected government must fulfil its responsibility by following the will of the people. Protesters demanded the government enforce the writ of the state in all provinces of the country.
They said the citizens were willing to take a stand against the Taliban. Several protesters quoted Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah as saying “Islam stands for justice, equality, fair play, tolerance, and generosity toward non-Muslims”. Joint Action Committee Convener Shahtaj Qizalbash said it was time the government decided on how it wants to deal with the Taliban. He said the government first fought the Taliban, then signed a deal with them, and will soon take action against those challenging the writ of the government. He said the government should not play a confusing role.
Protest: Protesters gathered at GPO Chowk outside the Lahore High Court (LHC) and walked towards the General Post Office (GPO). The Friday Times Publisher Jugnu Mohsin was among those leading the procession. She urged the government to adopt a clear-cut policy to combat terrorism. She said the military should play its role against Talibanisation to save the country. Upon reaching the GPO, hundreds of people signed and posted letters to the president, the PM, COAS and CJ.
Key points of the letter
* Citizens are dismayed at the abject capitulation of the state before the Taliban
* Any agreement signed at the point of a gun cannot lead to endurable peace
* The Taliban want to seize power through brutal force and intimidation and have little to do with the imposition of sharia or Islam
* We reject the argument that Pakistan army did not fight a counter-insurgency because it did not want to kill its own people
* It is incumbent upon you (the president) to compel the Pakistan Army to come to the aid of a constitutionally elected government and enforce the writ of the state
* You must urge the Supreme Court to exercise its authority to safeguard fundamental rights of all citizens including those of Swat
* The government must immediately devise and implement a strategy for countering the insidious propaganda by and in support of the Taliban, which fills newspaper columns and airwaves
* It is incumbent upon you to mobilise the nation against the scourge of the Taliban before it is too late.