25th day of December, celebrated around the world as a day of joy and happiness, a day marking the arrival of the great Messiah. In Pakistan, the day takes another meaning, the day of the Father of the Nation, Quaid-e-Azam, a man of principles, who set in the very foundation of Pakistan, peace, coexistence, equality, freedom and liberty.
The day, however, was not so jolly for the Khans, residents of Karachi, Pakistan, who were busy burying the only son of the family, a 19 year old, Shahzeb Khan, whose crime was standing up against harassment his sister faced by a servant of the “powerful”. The news spread and took over the entire nation like wildfire. Within a couple of days of the incident, “In Memory of Shahzeb Khan” had more than 50,000 subscribers. The express tribune covered the story in detail and the same was published on December 27, 2012. The friends and family of the deceased announced a protest to be held on December 30, 2012, simultaneously in Karachi and Lahore. Social Media was taken over and #JusticeForShahzebKhan (initially) and #Justice4ShahzebKhan at a later stage, seemed to be the only thing the nation had to talk about.
Soon enough, various political parties joined the cause. During a visit by PTI leadership at the Khans residence, Aurangzeb, Shahzeb’s Father, appreciated the solidarity shown and requested to not turn it into a political row. Rather, he wished for people to join in the name of humanity and justice, vowing to not letting this happen to another Shahzeb. Amidst all this, on 29th day of December, it was reported by Tribune that the suspects have been able to evade police at Dadu and were not captured. Surely the evasion may well be questioned. Were they actually that clever and quick or was a clean passage given since even registering an FIR had proven to be challenging against the alleged powerful murderers.
On December 30th, 2012, in Karachi, scores showed up at the Press Club, expressing sorrow and demanding justice. However, it was disturbing to note that a cause purely humanitarian called for by the loved ones of the deceased had turned into political rallies. While the involvement of the parties and support may be greatly appreciated, Aurangzeb’s request of not carrying party flags was completely ignored. It was difficult to ascertain whether a protest was being attended or a political rally.
Subsequently, the closed ones and the not so closed ones who were there for support decided to move away and carried on towards Sea View near the Khan residence. It was heartwarming to note that the number of fellow humans were much larger in that group. This group largely included family, friends, neighbors and people not known but this incident had brought them close like family.
The protestors gathered some ways away and started walking slowly towards the residence. The crowd seemed to have grown to hundreds. Sea View, Karachi was echoing chants of “We want justice”, “Aurangzeb, we are with you” and so forth. Pain and anger could be felt in each and every single voice as it got louder and louder. Soon, the entire street was jam packed with those who turned up for the cause, against the rampant mockery of justice by the elite and powerful who seem to think they are above the law.
The protest ended as Aurangzeb spoke and addressed the crowd thanking and asking each to do this, not only for his son but for every son. Since majority present were young, the need to raise the voice against this and other injustices was emphasized upon and the protest ended with a prayer and a call to not be at rest till the culprits are put to task.
Only if we all could join in, leaving politics aside, surely would have been a great gesture. But then again, what better event for point-scoring, than death of a 19 year old which has left the entire nation in grief, sorrow and anger.
Here is looking forward to the Chief Justice of Pakistan to take suo moto notice of this incident and ensuring that impartial inquiry is conducted and adequate action is taken. People need to feel democracy in their daily lives. However, as long as we have individuals assuming to be above the law and being successful, all we can do is call it a democracy.
Views contained herein are personal, as a neighbor, a participant and an observer and by no means reflect opinion of the family.