KARACHI: The youth of Lyari are determined to continue their struggle against criminals.
Their main weapon: education.
Their aim: to prove that they are talented, committed and peaceful citizens of the country’s largest financial hub.
“We almost lost everything in the past at the hands of these criminals,” said Musawar Ali, a teacher at a private school in Lyari. “Today, the area has finally become peaceful due to our courage.” He was of the opinion that criminals could only rule over the public if the latter bowed before them.
Lyari residents gathered at the Lyari Youth Café on Tuesday to share their experiences and discuss the efforts to restore peace in the restive area. Some of the youngsters dressed up in traditional attire, representing the various ethnicities residing in Lyari. PHOTOS: AYESHA MIR/EXPRESS
Dozens of youngsters from different areas of Lyari attended the ‘Pyambar-e-Peace’ seminar on Tuesday evening. The event was organised by Karachi Youth Initiative at Lyari Youth Café where the youth heard about their elders’ struggle and efforts to restore peace in the restive area.
Ali remembered, with teary eyes, the day when his female students hugged him as explosions hit Nawa Lane where the school was located. “My students were crying. They were in shock,” he said. He was speaking about the day when the fight between two groups of Lyari – Baba Ladla and Uzair Baloch – was at its peak. “I cannot forget that day.”
Another speaker, Rehana Baloch felt that the major part of the struggle was carried out by the women. “Yes, we were dying every day,” she said emphatically. “What we realised was that we could either pick up the courage to fight or die quietly.”
For Rehana, the turning point of the struggle was the Jhat Pat Market carnage. But the struggle isn’t over yet. “Our children are still enslaved,” she asserted. “We cannot hide like cowards anymore. If we don’t raise our voice now, Lyari will never see peace again.”
Another speaker, Ramazan Baloch, who is the editor of Lyari’s local newspaper, Sada-e-Lyari, traced the history of social and political movements in the area. He was of the opinion that the situation in Lyari was much better before the arrival of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. “We became very sentimental after the arrival of the Pakistan Peoples Party in Lyari.”
Ramazan also believed that Lyari’s residents were more conscious and understood the issues they were faced with. Politics only made the situation vulnerable, he contented. “On the other hand, Bhutto gave land rights to the people of Lyari,” he admitted.
Baloch Ittehad chairperson Abid Brohi advised the youth not to forget the past. “You must learn to be tolerant,” he said. “Be respectful towards your peers and elders and try to learn from their experiences.”
Brohi recalled the peaceful days before the gangsters enforced their writ over the area. “We used to resolve all our issues at the community level,” he said.
Some of the participants felt, however, that the prevalent peace was temporary. “Will the current peace exist forever or is it temporary?” questioned a young boy to which Brohi responded with a smile: “Let’s hope for the best.”
Other participants were unsure about the peace efforts, feeling their lives were under threat because of their efforts. “We are threatened when we come out of our houses for peace demonstrations,” revealed another young man, Muzammil. “Let’s just hope for the best and stand united,” Ali interrupted with a smile.
“Is it not a miracle that we sit here today, openly discussing peace and how to counter the criminals who have ruined our lives?” one of the organisers, Dr Imran, asked of the audience.
Another organiser, Usman Khalil, said that the youth of Lyari was finally coming out of their houses to actively participate in peace efforts. “We were unaware of peace. Today, our younger generation is participating in healthy activities all over the country.”
Published in The Express Tribune, April 17th, 2014.