London: Pakistan’s efforts to stage a march against Indian human rights violations, with a million people on the streets of London proved to be a monumental failure. Far from a seven figure, the march’s attendance did not even reach five figures.
One of the organisers claimed the march was “to protest against human rights violations by Indian troops in occupied Kashmir”. They planned to submit a petition asking the British government “to impress upon India to resolve the Kashmir dispute”.
A few thousand men, women in hijabs and even children waved Pakistani flags behind police barricades at the British capital’s Trafalgar Square. Barely a few days ago, the save place packed with audiences to watch on-stage entertainment in celebration of Diwali.
Only some of them assembled there walked down the thoroughfare of Whitehall towards Downing Street — the official residence of the British prime minister — for presenting a petition.
“Unfortunately we do not provide crowd figures,” said London’s Metropolitan Police Service, popularly known as Scotland Yard.
Unofficial Indian estimates put the gathering at no more than 2,000.
Bilawal Bhutto, leader of the Pakistan People’s Party, briefly participated in the protest. Geo News, a Pakistani TV news channel, put out a report that “Indian agents” attempted to prevent Bhutto from taking part, without revealing the the source of the news. Bilawal was also attacked during the march and was pelted with bottles and was hit with eggs and tomatoes.
The TV news channel ARY News conspicuously made no mention of the attendance.
The websites of Pakistan’s three leading daily newspapers, the Dawn, the News and the Express Tribune, until well after the march had concluded carried no story at all on the event.