Moeed Pirzada | FB Blog |
Time Line of Violence in Islamabad – Given continuous claims & counterclaims and official lies its important to know how it all started. Protestors marched towards the road that enters the Civil Secretariat, they started to loosen wires and remove a Container right at the entry point, when Police started heavy shelling. Crowds then reacted with sticks and stones, Police followed by Rubber bullets and very heavy shelling. Crowds then broke grills and gates. But those actions of the crowds being referred repeatedly by govt ministers as initial actions came later.
Why Police initiated action at the point where it did, will remain a difficult question to answer. My best guess is that they were under strict instructions not to bear any more assertiveness by the protestors and once the protestors actions made it clear that they will remove the containers and seek access to the road that gives access to the Civil Secretariat on both sides and then winds down behind the Secretariat towards the President House and Prime Minister’s House then Police reacted. However it is important to understand that President House and PM House are very far off from that point. Could crowds have gone there? if there leaders would have encouraged that, then they could have ventured that far, but there is evidence to suggest that both Qadri and Imran were making speeches to stop their protestors to stop in front of the Civil Secretariat. They wanted to make it their next station to show their assertiveness. Police had ample opportunity to stop the crowds between that point and the real gates of the President House. As far as PM House is concerned; all those who keep visiting know that it is very far off with a private access road that originates from the road behind the Civil Secretariat making a T-Junction.
When all that started, I was sitting in a live program with Jasmin Manzur, 10-12, and all those who might have watched that will remember that I was very critical of the apparent decision to enter the Prime Minister’s House – which I declared a stupid move. My comments were: in a modern republic you don’t become a PM by occupying a building. I considered that a frustrated symbolic act to prove an old fashioned point of ‘storming Bastille’ However I was also sure that Imran & Qadri would not go that far; and if crowds go close to the actual perimeters then the presence of the Army would discourage any penetration inside the premises. I also thought that if they went and tried entering the premises then the whole country will condemn them, media will make fun of them, they will look stupid and will have to beat a hasty retreat within 24 hours. What I did not realize that Govt’s hasty action “let’s teach them a lesson” will change the whole political situation and will provide a pretext for these protests to spread across the country. From the ferocity of Police action it was clear that the goal was to kick out all the protestors from the Red Zone but facing severe resistance this goal was shelved then. Now this is 5.15am and when I last met Police officers 45 minutes ago, they were still hinting that action will be taken to kick protestors out of Red Zone. However this now looks more and more impractical for Police to achieve.
Sad & Stupid Day for all of us and has literally sealed govt’s fate.