Photo by Rahat Dar
olding a protest is the right of a political party, a group of citizens or an individual. The right to peaceful assembly is granted by the United Nations. The Constitution of Pakistan allows the people to hold a peaceful protest. Undeniably, a protest demonstration gets its message across most profoundly when it adheres to certain rules and regulations of the land. By some accounts, that was not the case at the stand-off between the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaaf supporters and the police who had come to arrest their leader, Imran Khan on March 14 at his Zaman Park residence in Lahore. While the PTI supporters held that the police had attacked them without any provocation, the latter claimed of being attacked by the PTI workers, also with petrol bombs. The confrontation continued for a couple of days, leaving the roads partially or fully blocked, and making life difficult for the people living in the neighbourhood, who had to bear with the smoke resulting from the tear gas shelling. The protesters left in their wake streets and roads littered with garbage and waste.
Be it the PTI, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, or the Pakistan People’s Party, abiding by the rules and regulations while holding a protest demonstration or a rally should be the first priority of the political leadership. Unfortunately, this culture of holding a peaceful and contained protest still has to take root in our part of the world. The protesters and the law-enforcers both have to learn their lessons.