It is unfortunate and highly condemnable that a peaceful event organized for protection of women’s rights in Islamabad was pelted with stones resulting in injuries to participants. Held in other major cities too, the Aurat Marches largely went peaceful and without hindrance, but in Islamabad this was not the case. According to eyewitnesses, a large crowd of a religio-political party had gathered to stage another demonstration right in front of the National Press Club (NPC) Islamabad where a No Objection Certificate (NoC) had already been given to the organizers of the Aurat Azadi March. Earlier, some religious and sectarian outfits had filed an application in Islamabad High Court to stop the women's march but the court had decreed that such demonstrations were a democratic right of the people. Despite the court orders and without any permission from the city authorities, the miscreants gathered at the Aurat Azadi March venue and disrupted the event.
Thankfully the Islamabad police promptly took action to stop the intervention in the peaceful rally, and has also registered a FIR against at least 400 known and unknown individuals. Islamabad authorities had designated the area outside the NPC to the Aurat Azadi March organizers, so the miscreants should not have been allowed to gather in the first place. Now with the FIR registered, 11 religious scholars have been booked at the Kohsar police station for rioting, unlawful assembly, obstructing public functions, disobedience to order, wrongful restraint and use of assault or criminal force.
This kind of behaviour needs to be condemned at all levels. An inquiry should be initiated as to how a parallel gathering was allowed without an NoC even before the march started and why the unlawful gathering was not dispersed immediately. That politico-religious outfits display misogyny is already clear, but now we also have another element of right-wing writers such as Khalilur Rehman Qamar who stoke the fire by inciting anti-women attitudes in society. With women already under the microscopic eyes of society, such popular culture and media is being used to propagate hate against women, and curb what little freedom they have in this country. It is deplorable that some actors, producers, and even writers who apparently look like educated persons turn out to be bigots when it comes to women’s fundamental rights. For now, we have seen that the country's women have taken a bold stand for their rights. Let us hope they continue to remain brave in thew face of all the challenges that this society confronts them with.
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