Protests in Islamabad

Today was the day Pakistan’s religious and opposition parties had scheduled a mass protest and strike in the capital against the cartoons of the Holy Prophet published by the Danish newspaper. Though the protest, which was banned by the government, was supposed to be peaceful, with so many angry people gathering in one place, there were bound to be some violent scuffles.

I had heard news that the main diplomatic and government areas were sealed off and that the main exit points should be avoided, so in the afternoon, I left my friend’s place and drove across the city, using a longer route. Islamabad seemed its usual quiet and peaceful Sunday self. The few signs that something was going on included the closed and empty Sunday market near Peshawar Mor and thick black smoke rising from the Faizabad area of neighbouring Rawalpindi (I guessed they were burning tires there).

It was only after checking the news that it was confirmed that there had been tear gas shelling and warning shots fired when the protesters tried to enter the sealed areas. Still, it was much less destructive than the Lahore and Peshawar protests of a few days ago. Photos by the BBC here.

Everyone has proven their point and whatever damage could be done has been done (on both sides). Isn’t it time this issue was laid to rest and we moved onto more pressing issues like Iraq, world hunger and poverty? Continuing like this won’t solve anything.