Protests against anti-Islam film rock Pakistani cities
- 21 September 2012
- From the section Asia
Violent demonstrations have taken place on Friday in all the main cities of Pakistan against an anti-Islam film made in the US. Many of those taking part vented their anger against America in particular and the West in general. BBC correspondents from Pakistan's major cities describe the nature of the protests:
SHAHZAD MALIK, ISLAMABAD
Thousands of people were able to enter the capital despite police check posts and barricades which practically sealed off the entire city.
Most entry points were blocked by barbed wire and huge containers.
Clashes at several of these entry points took place early on Friday when demonstrators tried to get access to the heart of the city.
Although Islamabad was deserted in the morning, the city became much tenser later, culminating in police firing live rounds on demonstrators.
The main assembly point for the protest was Aabpara square, close to the diplomatic area and the US embassy.
Most protesters carried the flags of religious and political groups, including those of banned militant outfits like Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi. Demonstrators staged pitched battles with the police.
At some points they were able to breach the police cordons but did not succeed in entering the most heavily guarded areas of the city. At least two cinemas were set on fire.
JAFFER RIZVI, KARACHI
Although Karachi remained largely peaceful at the beginning of the day, violence escalated later in some parts of the city, with at least five people reported to have been killed.
Here too, police resorted to firing in the air to disperse protesters.
Various political and religious parties staged processions at different places.
Din Mohammad Wafai road remained the focal point of the protests, in front of the Karachi Press Club and the governor's house.
At least three cinemas and two banks were reported to have been set on fire. Police cordoned off all roads leading towards the houses of the chief minister and the governor - access to other important buildings was also blocked.
A heavy deployment of police could be seen on the roads leading to the US consulate. Some of the protesters were reported to be armed - at least one policeman received bullet wounds.
ASIF FAROOQI, RAWALPINDI
The day in Rawalpindi, the twin city adjoining Islamabad, started with violence.
An angry mob started burning tyres on the main highways, halting the little traffic on the roads on Friday morning.
As the day progressed, the demonstrators started moving towards Islamabad, aiming to reach the US embassy in the diplomatic area.
They were met by road blocks, barbed wire and police equipped with tear gas and rubber bullets.
As the mob continued its efforts to enter the capital they encountered stiffer and stiffer resistance from police.
The protesters burned several vehicles, police posts and barricades.
SHUMAILA JAFFERY, LAHORE
Lahore remained completely closed after different political and religious parties called for protests against the controversial film.
Police used tear gas and baton-charged protesters on the main mall after they were pelted with stones by protesters who tried to enter in the city's top security red zone area.
Shops, businesses and markets all closed. Main roads and roads leading towards the US consulate remained the focus of the protest throughout the day.
Demonstrators managed to get close to the US consulate despite a heavy police presence and the widespread use of barbed wire and containers to block key routes.
They climbed on buildings close to the consulate and tried to enter the premises that way.
RIFFATULLAH ORAKZAI, PESHAWAR
Peshawar witnessed fierce clashes between police and the demonstrators throughout the day. Police fired on protesters who tried to set a cinema on fire.
A driver of a local television channel was killed in the violence. At least three other people were killed throughout the day.
The main university road was occupied by protesters from various political parties and groups all day.
Violent protests were also reported from several other parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.