Of Punches And Protests

Of Punches And Protests

As most people are aware, the grandson of Muhammad Nawaz Sharif – three-time Prime Minister of Pakistan – was arrested (and released shortly afterwards) in London for engaging in a scuffle with a protester. Nawaz Sharif and his daughter, Maryam Nawaz were recently sentenced by a Pakistani accountability court for corrupt practices linked to the family’s purchase of four London flats. Sharif, 68, was sentenced to 10 years in prison and faces two more corruption cases against him following the Panama Papers scandal. Maryam Nawaz, 44, was also convicted and sentenced to seven years in prison. For those who are not aware of what transpired, please have a look at the news article here.

On Friday, July 13th, 2018, Maryam Nawaz’s son Muhammad Junaid Safdar was detained by the London police for engaging in a physical fight with a protester outside his flat. With the recent sentences given to his grandfather and mother, there are many people who believe that he deserved to be arrested as well, whilst others believe that Junaid did the right thing as it was done either in self-defense or because he was provoked to do so. As far as legal arguments are concerned, provocation is hardly a mitigating defense for offences committed in the UK and the self-defense argument requires proportionality between the action and reaction – Junaid might have relied on that since not only was the protester on private premises trespassing/ harassing, spitting on him and hurling abuses, the video that surfaced also showed that the protester was using an umbrella to fight an unarmed person. This is still a mere assumption of the facts and it remains to be seen what legal arguments were taken into consideration by the London police for releasing him or whether either side pressed any charges.

Here’s my take on why I believe the actual situation could have been handled more efficiently by all parties concerned.

Even though no one can tolerate others speaking ill of one’s family, especially to their faces, I believe that things could’ve been handled in a much better way as resorting to violence should never be condoned. People have been abusing his whole family for days in a very crass manner. Hearing people slurring abuses every time someone passes by can be frustrating to say the least. A mother is someone very special and close to one’s heart and one cannot just tolerate people insulting someone so dear to you. To be honest, I’d be quite frustrated as well and I might have retaliated just like Junaid. Anyone in his shoes would’ve done the same thing I believe. But can we really blame the protesters when even some of us have an intense disliking for the Sharifs for what they have subjected the country to, in all three of their tenures?

Furthermore, can one also really blame Junaid for being born into a family of corrupt people? Can he really be blamed if he is the grandson of a notorious politician? You can hate the system and hold the wrongdoers accountable but is it really fair to hold a person accountable for his grandfather’s and mother’s actions? Can’t we just recognize people as individual human beings irrespective of their political leanings?

I don’t support any political party in particular but I believe that all those who have been protesting outside Sharifs’ house in London claiming that the property has been purchased with the nation’s money are just degrading Pakistan’s name in a foreign land.

I’m also neither trying to defend PML-N nor justifying what Junaid did, I am just standing by what I feel is right and ethical. People need to foster humanity and benevolence, and while the Sharifs may deserve anger from the nation for what they have been convicted of, it certainly does not mean that the protesters blame someone who didn’t have anything to do with it.

Moreover, there are many orderly ways to protest; hurling insults and abuses and spitting on anyone are certainly not among them. While we shouldn’t offer applause to him or his family and that’s something that they certainly should not expect from us either, we can still protest, show disapproval and fight for our rights in a more civilized and disciplined manner. Everyone has become so radical at this point that anyone provoked can retaliate. It’s a two-way street and even though I’m all for the punishment of wrongdoers who certainly deserve to be held accountable, someone who is merely a blood relative of a convict shouldn’t be harassed on the streets or put under the spectacle.

People should always have the right to protest in a democratic setup, but in an orderly and civilized manner. Spitting at someone is immature, petty and completely unethical. I stand by what I feel is morally right without trying to defend any political party as I want to believe that humanity can still exist in a cruel world. And while this incident only lasted half a news cycle in the larger scheme of things, it is important that we talk about it so we can avoid similar incidents in future.


The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of CourtingTheLaw.com or any organization with which she might be associated.

Minhal Shan

Author: Minhal Shan

The writer is a student of A-Level Law at LGS.