The revolution will be tweeted | Pakistan Today

The revolution will be tweeted

Internet activists displayed their full strength in the protests against Hazara Shia killings in Quetta. While the electronic media remained suspiciously silent on the dharnas being demonstrated by the families of victims of the Quetta blasts, internet activists were busy sharing images on popular social media sites and organising more sit-ins in all major parts of the country.
Facebook saw a flurry of activity expressing solidarity with the families braving the subzero temperatures in Quetta, demanding the army to be called in to ensure the safety of the Hazara Shia community. Images of the families and the bodies of the victims were shared on popular Facebook pages and received hundreds of shares on private accounts of citizens. Most shares carried a post condemning the government and the media for ignoring the silent sit-in in Quetta.
Within 24 hours of the news of the sit-in in Quetta breaking, internet activists started sharing status posts calling on their friends and families on Facebook to join demonstrations in other parts of the country. On January 11, all major cities of the country saw organised silent sit-ins outside major political leaders’ residences. They remained largely peaceful expressions of solidarity with the victims of the killings and other victims of sectarian violence in the country.
Journalists working for the electronic media also shared Facebook statuses and Tweets saying they were “ashamed” to be part of the “free” media that was choosing to remain silent on the issue. Moreover, people updated photos on Facebook and Twitter from dharna sites, providing up-to-date information about the number of people who were currently flocking to the sites.
Overnight, the number of people at sit-ins in all parts of the country grew from a few hundred to thousands, so much so, that Tahirul Qadri’s long march began to take a backseat in national headlines. Just as numbers grew at the sit-ins, internet activists renewed their call and urged more people to join the dharnas. As late as Sunday night, people were seen flocking to major sites like Governor House in Lahore and Bilawal House in Karachi, while the families and protests in Quetta continued their silent protest.
Interestingly, while the government shut down cellular services in major parts of Lahore to trump a potential security risk at Tahirul Qadri’s long march on Sunday, internet services were fully functional, allowing internet activists to coordinate and encourage more people to join the sit-ins. The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) social media team picked up on the internet trend and may have played a strong role in PTI Chairman Imran Khan joining the sit-ins.
When news of governor’s rule being imposed in Balochistan broke, Facebook and Twitter acted as the primary source of news and sharing as most major news websites had not been updated.
Facebook and Twitter accounts saw an influx of congratulatory messages for the families of victims of the Quetta blasts and a general trend of celebratory messages was witnessed.
It did not stop at the demands of the protesters being met. Monday morning witnessed an increase in online posters continuing to condemn the media, the government and the Supreme Court for the slow response to the people’s peaceful call for ensuring their safety.
Talking to Pakistan Today, Maryam, who had been a part of the sit-ins in Multan, said, “I didn’t know about what was going at first. Then I saw Facebook posts being shared by my friends and it was appalling how there was nothing on TV about it.”
Talking to Pakistan Today, Saman from Lahore, said “I think the images on social media of those families sitting in the freezing cold weather with the dead bodies of their loved ones were enough to move any human being. I got to know about this sit-in through social media and sadly, electronic media was too busy covering Qadri’s long march.”
Another activist, Asim, posted a Facebook status, “PPP led Pakistani Ruling Class is scared sh**t at the sudden and unexpected show of people’s solidarity and mass action in various cities and roads of Pakistan. They have one aim now. Defuse this revolutionary fervor at soon as possible, by giving some concessions, even some reforms…Lets bring social revolution, and not limit ourselves to change of faces, while the system of exploitation remains unabated.”



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