PROGRAM: KAHANI Date aired: August 11, 2018 Part II: Cheel Chowk in Karachi’s Lyari: symbol of terror turns into symbol of peace VO: Cheel Chowk is considered a symbol of fear. The falcon envisioned by poet Allama Muhammad Iqbal has been placed at the entrance of Karachi’s Lyari. It has witnessed the Karachi Operation and...
Date aired: August 11, 2018
Part II: Cheel Chowk in Karachi’s Lyari: symbol of terror turns into symbol of peace
VO: Cheel Chowk is considered a symbol of fear. The falcon envisioned by poet Allama Muhammad Iqbal has been placed at the entrance of Karachi’s Lyari. It has witnessed the Karachi Operation and also attracted the attention of the whole world. Actually, the area is all about love and harmony. The residents of the area saw such violence that the barbaric scenes are still etched into their minds.
Gul Bibi, resident of Cheel Chowk: We used to get very scared but we used to get some relief after seeing Chaudhry Aslam (a police officer who used to hunt down the gangsters in the neighbourhood).
Aziz-ul Rehman, resident of Cheel Chowk: Cheel Chowk is a peaceful area and people from all ethnicities live here. The Baloch are in majority here. Violence takes place somewhere else and footage of our area is shown on the media.
Sakina Bibi, resident of Cheel Chowk: Rocket launchers were fired in the area. We had nothing to eat and drink for eight days.
(Shot of Ustaad Ghulam Muhammad performing the national song Ae Watan Pyare Watan)
Dr Akhtar Baloch, vice chancellor of Benazir Bhutto University: The media frequently reported the Karachi Operation from Cheel Chowk as the operation was launched from here so an impression was created that it was a safe haven for gangsters.
VO: Twenty electricity PMPs, 75,000 bullets were fired at the entrance of Cheel Chowk during the Lyari Operation. There was daily damage of Rs2 million which included infrastructural damage.
Nasir Kareem, social activist: The weapons used by the criminals were made in Russia and the drugs were grown in Afghanistan. A misconception was spread that the people of Lyari used to smuggle substances in. I believe this is not the case. Those elements are responsible who can be named anything.
Muhammad Zubair Thakur, artists and film director: This operation is a victory over those who were imposed on us. We have proved that Pakistan will live forever.
Ustaad Ghulam Muhammad: Many people have come and gone.
VO: Cheel Chowk is a peaceful area and people are living according to their normal routine. We can see how peaceful they are.
Dost Muhammad Danish, education expert, researcher: You will see development taking place as you enter Lyari from Cheel Chowk. Most youngsters in the field of film-making and singing live near Cheel Chowk and Benazir Bhutto University is also located there as well.
Adil Bizenjo, student, filmmaker: When we started the Lyari Film Festival in 2014 with the help of NGOs, we presented a replica Cheel Chowk as an award to the winners so that the negative image of the area could be countered. So we took similar steps in order to transform the negative image of Lyari.
VO: The people of Lyari faced bravely defeated terrorists.
Asma Ejaz, resident of Cheel Chowl: The situation is a lot better now. We could not go out in the night. Now we can attend weddings. As you know, the wedding ceremonies continue till Fajr prayers. By the grace of God, we stay at the receptions till late night.
Owais Baloch, accountant: I have a Masters degree and I am an accountant by profession. There are many people in Lyari who are working in entertainment and education. Renowned Pakistani footballers and boxers are from Lyari. This is the real Lyari.
VO: Four fish are carved on the lower level of the 20-foot pillar on which the bird’s replica is placed. The bird’s statue weighs 300 kilograms and Rs1 million was spent on its construction. It was placed in 1979.
Adil Bizenjo: Monuments were placed all over Lyari to make the area more beautiful. The monument which you can see behind me was demonised when law and order deteriorated over the past 10 to 15 years. A fearful narrative of the area was presented in the media so that people would get scared of it.
Dr. Akhtar Baloch: The people of Lyari were treated in a cruel manner. Children were killed in front of their parents. Girls were abducted. People were forced to leave their homes. The houses used to be demolished overnight. Apart from that, there was firing and explosions. I mean, if we tell our story to the world, they would not even believe it.
VO: The area has been a centre of culture and sport. They remained determined as ever and kept others happy.
Muhammad Zubair Thakur: The bullets shattered the windowpanes of our homes. The hearing of our children was affected but we never lost hope and made others happy. We performed our programs. By the grace of God, it is a big defeat to terrorism. It is our victory, it is the Pakistan Rangers’ victory and it is a win for the whole nation.
Dost Muhammad Khan: I am linked to small schools and I don’t remember a single day when they were closed. We have to remain on the path of progress. You recently saw how the people of Lyari voted in the election. They recorded their protest, over what happened in the past 10 years, with the power of the vote.
Ustaad Ghulam Muhammad: We confronted them before and we prevailed because we were on the right path.
Dr. Muhammad Ramzan, writer and researcher: Maybe our youngsters read somewhere that there is light at the end of every tunnel.
Adil Bizenjo: This is a story of determination.
Dost Muhammad Khan: This is a story of awareness.
Owais Baloch: This is a story of Iqbal’s Shaheen.
VO: The people of Lyari defeated terrorists with the love for the country, passion and courage.