An Honest Account of a Peace Rally
By Usman Saif Cheema
November 9th 2009, 1830 hours. As I sit here with an eye on the television, watching MotoGP which I was waiting for the whole week, I am neither at ease nor at peace. Today someone in Peshawar killed innocent peaceful people again, and all I did for them was to attend a Peace Rally. The day started like every other Sunday; I woke up late enough to miss the morning bomb blast. Then the dilemma of “should I go to this peace rally I have been told about or not” crept in. The bed, the television, the laptop in my lap, and breakfast in bed were like shackles not letting me out of my bedroom. But the news of killing of innocent people made my bed of roses not so appealing anymore..
1430 hours, today: I left home for Qurban School, Walton Road, Lahore, Pakistan for the Peace Rally. As I drove towards the venue, I had to pass through two Military Police check points, which were not there just a few months ago. Though it multiplied my journey time by three, I am not complaining.
To be honest, I was expecting a low key affair, a small peace rally attended by all walks of society, but it was not so at all. It had all the ingredients of a political rally. A stage, a lot of police, boys on bikes with Pakistani flags, numerous MPA / MNA, Media with their cameras, women, children and men being brought from different parts of the city on buses, including political workers – it was a good show. But there was anxiety in the air; I could feel people were tense, as this rally presented a big target for terrorists, against whom all these people were united. They walked with banners, slogans and placards, all united for one purpose – PEACE in our beloved country Pakistan. As I stood there, I wanted to salute these brave people who chose not to stay at home and avoid risk, but instead they chose to send out a blunt message to the terrorists, that they are not afraid, and if they can’t fight against them like our army is fighting, they can send out a clear message that 'no matter what you throw at us, we won’t give in'. We will succeed and we want peace.
Moto GP ends, I haven’t watched a lap. 1856 hours. Lahore
All Images shot by Usman from his mobile phone.