ISLAMABAD/LAHORE: COMSATS Institute of Information Technology (CIIT) took the lead to arrange a first-ever peaceful protest walk to express solidarity with Syrian children being brutally killed by Bashar al-Assad’s regime.
After holding a successful peaceful march, the COMSATS students were all set to hold seminars in various universities, besides arranging peaceful protests in front of Islamabad Press Club to tell the Syrian people that the Pakistani youth, irrespective of their political and religious affiliations, was standing by them as ‘One Ummah’, Mehran Saeed, a COMSATS student leading the protest march, said.
Talking exclusively to Pakistan Today, Saeed said that they were planning to hold seminars in various universities, and the first seminar would be held in the International Islamic University Islamabad (IIUI) in the first week of April to assure the Syrian people that “their Pakistani brothers were with them in this trying time.”
The protestors urged the world community to take notice of the barbarism of al-Assad’s despotic regime, which is supported by Russia. They called upon the Syrian government to enforce a ceasefire forthwith so as to avoid further bloodshed of innocent people.
In the peaceful protest march, a large number of students were seen carrying placards and banners expressing solidarity with Syrian children. Around 500 students came out to attend the event.
Saeed said that they especially urged the Muslim countries to take notice of the situation and intervene in this regard in order to ensure a peaceful resolution of the seven-year bloody Syrian conflict.
He said that they would raise their voice against any brutality and barbarism, whether it was being committed against the people of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) in Pakistan or in Syria.
To a question, Saeed said that the COMSATS administration did not allow them to take out a rally on the first day, on the pretext that the government had yet to take any clear policy stance on the issue.
Otherwise, he said, that around 80 per cent of the varsity administration sided with the protesters, and only a handful of officials opposed the rally.
He said that on the first day, they were asked to obtain a no-objection certificate (NOC), which was actually not required for holding a peaceful protest. He further said that they formally obtained the NOC because they wanted to highlight the issue peacefully and did not want to create administrative problems inside the varsity.
“The sole purpose of the rallies and seminars is to unite the Muslim youth under one platform called ‘One Muslim Ummah’. This is how we can stand united with Syrians and Yemenis,” he added.
He said that people from all walks of life, including politicians, religious scholars of different sects and others, would be invited because it was an issue of the Ummah collectively and was not specifically associated with the Sunni or Shia schools of thought. The actual reason behind the devastation of Muslims all around the world was the ruthless division of Muslims along sectarian lines, he maintained.
“We want to give a strong message to the world that we would strongly condemn any sectarian division within the Muslim world. Let the whole world know that for the first time students from all sects were standing united under one platform of COMSATS to raise their voice in solidarity with the Syrian and Yemeni children, and they said a big no to sectarian division. We said yes to one united Muslim Ummah,” he added.
In addition, Anas Tasneem, a student at COMSATS who participated in the protest, told Pakistan Today, “I think the protest was very important because it was unique in its execution. There has never been an event like this in the varsity’s history—an event that calls upon Muslims to unite, forgoing sectarian conflicts for once and stand in solidarity with Syrians.”
He went on to say that the event “also showed that youth in Pakistan has no hope whatsoever with the current rulers [of the Muslim world].”
Regarding the varsity’s hesitancy early on, he said, “I think the university officials were unsure about what to do and what to say when they saw a call for Syria just like it happened at the UN vote [for Eastern Ghouta where Pakistan abstained from voting].”
Discussing the country’s muddled foreign policy, he said there was an absolute rage among the youth regarding Pakistan’s foreign policy overall, and it seems like “the youth was more aware of what had been happening in Syria then a lot of our top government officials.”
Tasneem went on to say, “Pakistan’s policymakers honestly don’t care if people are dying anywhere as long as the national interests are secured.”
When asked about any future events, he said, “Our call and protests will only increase, and in future, the issues of Yemen, Kashmir, Palestine and Rohingya Muslims would also be addressed.”