In countries like ours, anyone can block any street or lane anytime, without caring for the law and order’s situation.
By Yasir Qazi
‘Hyde Park’ London is globally recognized for the freedom of speech, where anyone can come and say, whatever he/she desires. (Though Hyde Park is a huge arena and it has its several other significances also), but even then, it has become the metaphor of ‘Liberty of expression’. Same way, Presidents’ Park at Washington DC, which is just adjacent to the White House, is meant for protests and remonstrations and no one can stop, whether one expresses what against anyone. I’ve mostly observed people protesting against US Presidents in that Park, which he himself can see from his bedroom or living room’s window. The same case is with the ‘Downing Street’ in London, where you mostly find groups of people peacefully protesting before 10-Downing Street. Most of us are also aware of the fact that in most parts of the USA and Europe, streets and avenues are hired for political, religious and social protests for hours and the groups of people, who organize such processions, pay for getting through those roads as per the length of time.
But in countries like ours, anyone can block any street or lane anytime, without caring for the law and order’s situation. In federal capital ‘D Chowk’ has become a preferred place for such protests. In Karachi, Press Club is always a place to protest in front of which makes a sense too, but Numaa’ish Roundabout (Zero point of Quaid-e-Azam’s Mausoleum) had become a permanent place for protests of religious organizations and Friday post-prayer till sunset were a permanent timing for such protests. (Due to being under construction, this disturbance is postponed since last more than half a year). Apart from that, there is no law about who blocks which road without taking prior permission, and that is Okay with everybody. People block streets through tents for their personal family functions without taking any consent from any institution. Group of people protesting before Karachi Press Club, sometimes starts moving suddenly towards the RED ZONE and when the law enforcement agencies opt to stop them from doing so, they become under question by our FREE MEDIA and considered unkind.
Why don’t and shouldn’t our federal as well as provincial governments think upon the need of specifying a certain place for such protests, which may remain open for whole the day and any individual, group of people, political or religious party may be allowed to record their peaceful protests remaining within prescribed limits and SOPs, which can be duly covered by the media also. In this way, it will be easier to take action against those, who violate the rules and use other venues for the purpose.
This country eagerly needs HYDE PARKS in every major city.
The author is freelance Radio, TV and print journalist, poet, prose-writer, researcher, columnist, blogger, translator, and author of seven books in Sindhi. He writes regularly for English, Urdu and Sindhi dailies and websites