By: Arif Qoreshi
Despite the political and religious leadership to protest peacefully at least 21 people were killed and over 200 injured as protests against the anti-Islam film in several cities across Pakistan on the day Youm-e-Ishq-e-Rasool (Day of Love for the prophet). First time a good move was seen from the U.S. embassy in Islamabad to run advertisement featuring President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, which features clips of Obama and Clinton underscoring U.S. respect for religion and declaring the U.S. government had nothing to do with the movie. Unfortunately 20 people were killed yesterday across the Pakistan but Police succeeded to keep away thousands of protesters away from U.S. missions in all the major cities including Islamabad. Many people criticized the decision to public holiday announced by government but that decision proved right if government did not announce holiday then it can be more harmful.
What the protesters wanted
In all the major cities wanted to go near the united states consulates to record their protest but the government feared that can cause panic and terrorist can get advantage of the opportunity and can harm the diplomatic missions.
Military on Standby
The military was on standby in the capital yesterday after protesters tried to force their way into the highly protected zone in central Islamabad that houses the foreign diplomatic missions.
Mobile Phones suspended
Mobile phone services had been suspended in many of the biggest cities to limit the potential for violence but critics questioned the Pakistani government’s decision to declare a public holiday.
In the federal capital, clashes between police and protesters were witnessed in several areas. Some protesters managed to enter red zone and but were met with resistance from the police who use tear gas shelling to deter them from proceeding towards the diplomatic enclave. At least 69 people were injured during the clashes according to hospital sources.
In Karachi Angry protesters set fire to five cinemas. Several shops, banks, vehicles and police vans were also set ablaze across the city.
12 deaths were reported and over 100 injured were rushed to hospitals across the city and unfortunately incidents of violence were also reported at the Civil and Jinnah hospitals.
Three PTI supporters killed
Three supporters of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (Qari Khalid, Ghaffar and Shafiq) were killed and 35 were injured when the police allegedly opened fire on them at the Native Jetty Bridge as they were making their way to the party’s rally at Empress Market.
The day began with violent protests in Peshawar. Angry demonstrators set fire to two cinemas and also destroyed the building of Chamber of Commerce. Seven people were killed including of an driver of a local TV channel(ARY).
Protesters also took to the streets in the provincial capital of the Punjab. Police and protesters clashed in several areas and police used tear gas shelling and aerial firing to disperse participants of a protest near the US consulate in Lahore.
Protesters pelted cars with stones and destroyed a CNG station in the city. Police vans and check posts were also set ablaze by protesters.
The writer is an editor of thefortress.com.pk