Campaign Notes
 

October, 30th 2001

The Pakistanis4Peace campaign started today. 5 individuals gathered at Clifton and walked towards Aghas Super Market with placards bearing a single message: PEACE. We attracted attention almost immediately. Looks of curiosity, whispers, questions · We stood at the Schon Circle bus-stop for a while, answered a few questions and then crossed the street to Mottas General Store. As people went about their work, not really showing much interest, an old man, selling all sorts of trinkets, came up to us and asked us why we were walking around demanding peace. Although he was unconvinced by our answers, a crowd gathered around us, ranging from flower sellers to shoppers. An angry young man, convinced that "Jihad" is the only solution, sparked off an enthusiastic discussion. As people started expressing their points of view, the "Jihadi" realized he stood alone and unsupported in his desire for violence and war. He soon left and we continued to draw the support of onlookers. Another young person, emerging from a bookstore gave us his phone number and e-mail address and said he wanted to join us. People were eager to know whether we would come back and and wanted to know when and where the next big peace rally would be held. A large number of street children were vociferous in their support for our campaign and wanted to hold our placards. It is important to educate these children and make them aware of the issues we are all facing. Finally, a group of approximately 25 people walked with us to show their support. We are full of hope and excited about tomorrow ·

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October, 31st 2001

Our core group of 5 was joined by 6 new individuals today. We gathered outside Mottas General Store and were soon joined by a large group of children. The "Jihadi", probably a shop-keeper, was present again · We asked him if he had changed his mind about war but his faith is strong. Well, the world doesn't change in a day · Today we walked towards Boat Basin, informing people along the way about the Peace Rally on Saturday, 3rd November, 2001, outside the Press Club. Our merry band of children, led the way, with calls for "Amn" (Peace). Outside Mr. Burger, we spoke to a group of 20-30 people, including waiters, and people selling a variety of wares. Most of them were against the relentless bombing in Afghanistan and the loss of civilian life. A few words about the children who seem to be most eager to join our cause ·These children are filthy and live on the streets, begging for food and money. They follow us around because we respect them. We talk to them and listen to them. It will take a while for them to even begin to comprehend the issues that confront us. We have started by discussing the war in Afghanistan with them. They are aware of the war but are not sure whether it affects Pakistan in any way. We will continue talking to them and will hopefully take them with us to the rally on Saturday.

November, 1st 2001

Today is a day of consolidation and reflection. Our website (http://www.pakistanis4peace.org) is being tweaked and will hopefully be online by tomorrow.

November, 2nd 2001

A mela commemorating Universal Children's Day was in progress at the PIA Planetarium, Hassan Square. We requested the organizers to allow us to stand at the entrance with our placards. It took us a few minutes to convince them and we were finally granted permission when they saw that our placards were devoid of controversial slogans. We had a lively discussion with members of the organizational committee, as well as with a representative of an influential Urdu newspaper. These daily efforts provide us with an opportunity to speak to a variety of people who we would otherwise never encounter. From office to home and back every single day is all that we did. Now, for once in our lives, we have a chance to share our thoughts and spark a dialogue.

30 minutes later ...

The Rangers outside Pizza Hut asked us to leave immediately ... we complied with their wishes and moved 10 feet to the left. The local shop-keepers did not have any objections! Spoke to some students and a few professionals ...

November, 3rd 2001

Today was the day of the "big" rally that was organized by the Joint Action Committee at the Karachi Press Club at 4:30 pm. 30 people showed up and of them, 12 were from Pakistanis4Peace (P4P) - a real achievement since we have only been "active" for 5 days. Since we were in "large" numbers and the organizers themselves were not there on time, we got an excellent chance to display our placards and distribute our pamphlet (more on this later in the write up) to the press. There were a few of the "same old" people that always show up and as usual raised slogans. P4P consciously did not become part of any "murdabad" slogans for obvious reasons and asked the protestors to stand in silence for five minutes for all the victims of war and terrorism. This was observed.

Later on, a representative of the Joint Action Committee verbally attacked one of our key members and said that "you don't have any rights to speak, this is OUR event". Sabeen quite successfully challenged this statement and the matter was dropped. Thumbs Up, Sabeen for shouting back at the cynics. Sabeen was also asked to say a few words by ARY Digital.

As the protestors were dispersing we decided to walk and asked everyone to join us ... We got a mild response as it was already 5:30 (time for NGO activists to go home!) so 16 of us walked to and from the Shell Petrol Pump nearby. The lessons for today's protests are that even the "converted" are not fully convinced as to where they stand and the issue has to be made clear in front of the public. The pamphlet is out today and was very well received by civil society and the presswallahs. The urdu translation although complete, could not be printed out due to Murphy's Law acting on my computer. We'll have it ready for Sunday's demo.

November, 4th 2001

Sunday is "family day" at Park Towers, a "happening" mall in Karachi's elite Clifton area. 7 Pakistanis4Peace arrived with high hopes and big dreams ;-) Not desirous of clashing with the authorities (that would defeat the objective of peaceful, strategic dialogue), we headed towards the first visible man in uniform to request permission to distribute our pamphlets and stand in a corner with our placards. The expected, instinctive, gruff "NO" was received. Contacts always help though ... We approached another uniformed guard, a "friend" and talked to him about our campaign ... he passed us on to the Marketing Manager of Park Towers, who was doing his "rounds". He agreed to the distribution of the pamphlets outside the glass doors of the mall, near the Candy Floss machine. After positioning ourselves in front of the Philadelphia Cheese stall, we were soon admonished by Mr. Marketing Man who said he absolutely would not allow placards. We were unsuccessful in our attempts to convince him that he needed to take a stance if he believed in something. Three of us stayed where we were, sans placards, and the rest, crossed the road and took their positions just outside the jurisdiction of Park Towers, to attract the attention of folks coming in and out of the Mall.

Our placard-holding group soon attracted the attention of a bunch of young men on motorbikes. They stopped out of sheer curiousity and demanded more information, which was provided. Once convinced that the cause was noble, ("amn to acchi cheez hai") they parked their motorbikes on the side of the road and joined us. Their presence made a noticeable impact and more people started joining in, reaching a grand total of 15.

A bearded gentleman, also amongst those holding aloft placards for peace stated that all he was interested in was the destruction of America ("hum to America kee tabahi chahtey hain"). We asked him how he could possibly believe in the concept of peace if he wanted to destroy an entire nation. This sparked off an interesting discussion - they finally came round to admitting that it was the policies of the US that they were against and NOT the people who live there. We discussed with them the fact that political negotiation is a more viable option than exploding a bomb in someone's face, that the answer to conflict is not war. The ensuing silence was a small victory (we think).

November, 5th 2001

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Pamphlets were distributed in great numbers at Karachi University and the Institute of Business Administration, bright and early in the morning. Later in the evening, pamphlets were handed out to people who teach at the Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture. A fellow activist, who is getting married, missed no opportunity to pass on the word whilst shopping and running errands.

November, 6th 2001

The campaign for peace has had such an affirmative effect on me that I rarely miss an opportunity to spread the message.

A friend had taken me to Gulf Shopping Mall to buy bangles for his wedding. Standing at the Bangles stall, I could not resist searching for the "right" people and once through with the shopping, I went around distributing our Pakistanis4Peace website pamphlets ... It was the best response I have gotten so far.

I first targeted women shopping alone. I remember my mother once telling me that women who shop alone are usually the kind who are pretty sure of themselves. I donÕt know where the connection lies, but I just felt that these women would at least hear me out and ... Bingo! I stood with these women for at least five minutes each and they all had something or the other to say to show their support and a couple of them even took extra copies to distribute to friends. Next I targeted young girls with their mothers. These girls turned out to be exactly as I had anticipated, interested and friendly. They promised to visit the site, inquired about the peace rallies and offered to spread the word.

All in all, my day ended on a good note and it felt great to have spread the word "PEACE".

November, 7th and 8th

Deadlines at work have made it difficult for all of us to meet for the last couple of days ... however, our voices are active on the forum ... We have had a few unfortunate mishaps with our web hosting company, we apologize profusely to anyone who has had a problem logging on to the site.

 
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