- Are laws to be made and unmade in the streets?
The revelations made by TLYR leader Khadim Hussain Rizvi indicate that the interior minister, who had thoroughly bungled the handling of the Faizabad sit-in, did nothing other than putting his signatures to the deal between the army and the protester’s leadership. During the last few days a namby-pamby Ahsan Iqbal first tried to divert the anger of the mob to Parliament, forgetting that the controversial bill was introduced in it by PML-N’s own law minister. Iqbal then washed his hand of the Sunday operation holding the Islamabad High Court responsible for it.
While the totally one-sided agreement put an end to the sit-in, it will have serious domestic and international implications. Internally it will further encourage sectarian and political mobsters to get their demands accepted by blocking the federal or provincial capital cities. Externally, it would send worrisome signals to allies and friendly countries. Pakistan will be seen as an unstable country, which would scare away potential investors. It would show that extremists, or terrorists in the making, are still capable of dictating to the government and can get away with kidnapping, detaining and torturing police personnel. The demands affecting the minorities conceded in the agreement brokered by the Punjab government’s reps with TLYR early this month would negatively affect Pakistan’s image abroad.
The agreement to appoint an inquiry board to propose action against the government and administration officials involved in the Sunday operation has sent a demoralising message to those who had acted under orders from lawful authorities. Not contented with the one-sided acceptance of its demands, the TLYR is now after Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah’s scalp. The protest at Charing Cross continues unabated. A Pir from Sargodha has issued an ultimatum demanding Sanaullah’s dismissal within three days failing which he has threatened to march on Lahore.
The government needs to call a meeting of the National Security Committee where it should apprise the members the dire implications of the agreement brokered. There is a need on the part of all to realise that a civil-military confrontation does not suit anybody.