Today many people all across the world celebrated the International Day of Peace. I, on the other hand, spent the day trying to avoid being shot at with rubber bullets, pelted with rocks or tear-gassed.
This was the situation amid the national protest in Pakistan against the now-famous anti-Islam film. The protest which was meant to be peaceful failed to stay so as violence broke out between the protesters and the police forces.
The thousands of protesters around me which included men, women and children were furious. Anger and distrust against Western bodies was never new in this region of the world, but the protest of today was different – it was much more personal to the people. Caught in-between the mayhem and with tear-gas burning my eyes I was cursing my journalist instinct which urged me to cover this “peaceful protest”.
But now as my eyes are cleared up and I write this post and share the pictures I have to say I am glad I went. Looking at these photographs and the video one can truly gain perspective on how difficult it is to achieve peace in this world, especially when we have so many people who are fueling the conflict.
21 people died that day in the protests while over 100 were injured – which included not only civilians and police officers but also journalists.
In the end the protests that occurred in my country and in other nations shows how the road to peace is much tougher then one can imagine. To truly achieve peace & harmony in this world we must stop such violent protests and moreover also stop spreading hateful content.
But the question still remains: are we ready for that, are we prepared to stop believing that our religion, our nation, our culture, our lives are not superior to those of others – are we ready to grant respect to others?
If we ever do achieve this then can we perhaps rightfully celebrate a day for peace.
Photography: Aown Shahzad
View Video: Pakistan Protest on International Peace Day