Metro closed, exams cancelled, attendance in offices low
Faizabad, Naseerabad, Bara Kaho, all entry points sealed, police deployed
Following the execution of Mumtaz Qadri early on Monday morning, the Capital braced itself for any attempt by religious elements to enter the city and protest the execution.
Many citizens remained indoors, as attendance remained low in government and private offices, schools and colleges. Those trying to enter the city had to contend with long queues and traffic jams on the roads.
All the entry points to Islamabad, including Islamabad Chowk, M-2, G.T. Road, Rawat, Bhara Kahu and Faizabad had been sealed and heavy contingent of police were deployed at all points. Long queues of trucks and cars were visible everywhere, even the bikers and women were not allowed to enter the city. The number of demonstrators was in dozens. No prominent leader was present during the demonstrations. Ambulance, however, were allowed to pass through.
At the demonstration, Pro-army and Pro-Musharraf slogans were raised by protesters.
“We were once staunch supporters of Nawaz Sharif, now we loathe him, Army didn’t punish Mumtaz Qadri, all this is the doing of Nawaz Sharif. High Court removed the anti-terrorism clauses from Qadri’s case, but the government reinstated these clauses and hanged him. We don’t accept judicial terrorism,” were the views aired by Ramzan Abbasi, Inayatul Haq, Liaqat Gujrat and Allama Irfan Jillani while addressing the gathering. The leaders also announced that they had severed all ties with the PML-N. The number of demonstrators was around 50; a baton-wielding force blocked roads; the demostrators also provoked the policemen present to turn against the Nawaz government.
A range of slogans were being chanted at the rally, ‘Jurrat-o-buhadari, Mumtaz Hussain Qadri’, ‘Shame on Nawaz, Shame on Zardari’, ‘Raheel bhai Qadam Barhao, hum tumharay saath hain’, ‘Ghazi teray khoon saey, Inquilaab ayee gaa’, We are Darudi, we are not Barudi’.
The leaders urged their followers to not hurt policemen, as they were their Muslim brethren, and urged the police personnel to turn against the Nawaz regime. “These corrupt politicians have turned against Raheel Sharif, who has no sympathy for these venal and vain politicians,” said one of the speakers.
The commuters, many of them students, government servants and employees of private sector, had to take a day off as roads to mainland Islamabad were ‘out-of-bounds’.
The attendance was less than usual at government offices including the National Assembly, Senate and Pakistan Secretariat. The employees residing in adjacent housing societies and Rawalpindi were stuck in traffic and returned to their homes eventually.
Islamabad Bar Council observed complete strike and boycotted courts to show solidarity with Mumtaz Qadri. “The lawyers decided to observe strike as a community and the Bar sided with them,” Islamabad Bar Council President Syed Muhammad Tayyab said while talking to Pakistan Today. “Lawyers are a family and decisions are made on majority basis,” he said. Rawalpindi District Courts also observed an ‘unannounced’ strike, the lawyers whiled away their time in the bar room or the chambers.
In Rawalpindi, forces sealed Rawal Road, Airport Road, Murree Road and Saddar. Many of the people driving from home to work in the morning, after running into barrier after barrier, returned to their home. The panic was palpable in twin cities as the news of Qadri’s execution caught the citizens by surprise early in the morning.
The private schools freed the kids earlier than their usual closing time. Many parents didn’t send their kids to schools. Federal Board cancelled the paper of Science for 5th standard all over the city due to transport issues and lock down.
Marvi Sirmad, a journalist and columnist, told Pakistan Today about her principled stance against capital punishment and said that she won’t celebrate anyone’s death. “However, the decision will surely reinstate the state’s writ as Qadri was unrepentant till the last moment. The blasphemy law is the product of colonial time, both IPC and Pakistan Penal Code solidify the Colonial mindset. Instead of protecting the minorities’ religion, we’ve turned it even against the majority,’ Marvi Sirmad said.
Rawalpindi-Islamabad Metro was closed, the roads wore a deserted look. Even at Kohsar Market, where Mumtaz Qadri shot Salman Taseer 28 times five years ago, the civil society abstained from celebrating the much demanded and finally delivered justice. The people came, sat in cafes, had their breakfast and sipped their coffee. The blood spots long vanished from the spot where Salman Taseer was assassinated.
Hafiz Manazir Hussain, a resident of Rawalpindi, when asked about Qadri’s execution said that since Qadri is innocent, the government will be held responsible on the Day of Judgment for the wrongdoing they’ve committed.
“Initially the judge sided with Mumtaz Qadri Shaheed but then judges in higher courts were biased and they delivered a wrong judgment,” opined Manazir Hussain.
Be it the posh sectors like F-6, F-7, E-8, E-11 or humble middle class ones like G-9, G-10,I-9, I-10, the gloom loomed large in the air and the citizens avoided going out.
“No one, no matter who they are can take matters of state into their own hands. If one wants to live in a society they need to at least respect the sanctity of another man’s life. Unfortunately, we have forgotten the gist of religion and only follow certain religious leaders who always have their own axe to grind,” Ali Mufti, an economist by profession told Pakistan Today.
SSP Operations Sajid Kayani was not available for a comment despite repeated attempts.