Wednesday July 06, 2022

Karachiites march for Palestine, demanding an end to Israeli aggression

The protest started at 4:00 pm and went on for two hours until the march began from Karachi Press Club, all the way to Regal Chowk

May 19, 2021
'Save Palestine' slogans echoed through the streets of Karachi on Wednesday // Photo by Bismah Mughal

Thousands of people from all of Karachi converged together this Wednesday at the Press Club to stand in solidarity with the Palestinians and demand the Israeli government to put an end to systemic genocide on the civilians of Palestine.

The protest was organized entirely by student-led bodies from universities and colleges in Pakistan to speak against the violence and agony that the Palestinians have been subjected to for many decades. There has been a deadly acceleration in the number of attacks on Gaza in the past week, killing almost 200 people.

The protest started at 4:00 pm and went on for two hours until the march began from Karachi Press Club, all the way to Regal Chowk, and back to the starting point.

The head of the volunteering team— Obaid talked exclusively to and explained that they were anticipating 3,000-5,000 people maximum to show up. It was heartening, and equally shocking, to witness almost 15 thousand people, including Pakistan’s beloved celebrities such as Mahira Khan, Sheheryar Munawar, Anoushay Ashraf, Ayesha Omar, Sanam Jang, Sarwat Gilani, amongst many others, showing up at the protest with their hearts brimming with support for the people of Palestine.

The protest was organized entirely by student-led bodies from universities and colleges in Pakistan/ Photo by Bismah Mughal

The commemoration took place amid the pandemic, hence special care was taken by the team of ninety volunteers to ensure that SOPs were followed strictly. One of the volunteers admitted that the team was not ready for that many people to show, which made it difficult to control the masses in tight spaces to follow the SOPs. The volunteering team was also hyper-vigilant to warrant that no case of sexual harassment takes place on the site.

The social media manager of today’s event— Azzah, talked about the censorship against the war in Palestine on the internet and said it was cardinal to spread the message digitally to let the world know what is happening in Palestine. The social media page for PakistanForPalestine (PFP) movement gained thousands of followers and huge traction overnight after the message of the protest in Karachi went online.

Karachiites gathered to call for an end towards Israel's continuous attacks on Palestine // Photo by Bismah Mughal

According to Azzah, that is the least we can do. Talking to The News International, she said: “As Pakistani citizens, we will never be able to understand what they are going through but we know we have a sense of empathy and that is exactly why so many people came out today. And we will do it again and again and again till we make a change.”

Most of the attendees of today’s protest were young citizens who took to the streets to show the government that the youth is not impotent and that their voices matter. One of the initial organizing committee members, Amna Ashraf, talked about the “special power” of today’s generation and said: “What is special about today’s generation is that we do have our differences with each other, but we have the ability to put aside those differences to come together and unite against what’s wrong,” she said.

“The message we gave today is clear. We will stand strong. We will stay firm. We will not waver to any form of force or oppression. The government should know if they will stay silent, then we will speak louder. And we will do it as many times as it takes for us to get out of our homes.”

MQM-P leader Farooq Sattar pictured at the protest on Wednesday in Karachi // Photo by Bismah Mughal

One of the protestors, Dhauha Alvi, drew parallels between the settler’s colonialism happening in Palestine with the Gujjarnalla House Eviction ordeal in Karachi, and explained to raise voices for both issues is equally important and that is why she was marching today.

“A lot of what is happening in Pakistan like the ethnic cleansing of groups like Baloch and Pashtoon and poor people from lower-income class is perpetrated directly or indirectly by the Pakistani state. The people in the march today should also talk about them,” she added.

Karachi’s protest included people with diverse ideologies, from different socio-economic background, from various religions and sects, from a sundry of professions— united against Israel’s systemic tyranny and violence against Palestinians. The organizers are hopeful that this was not the last time they marched for Palestine, and that more protests will take place in the coming days.