The upcoming Aurat March has already brought in a mixed bag of opinions from across the political spectrum. Maulana Fazl-ur-Rehman’s recent comments regarding the demonstration in particular, are worrying. Why the head of JUI-F believes that the march promotes vulgarity or is against Islamic values is anyone’s guess. But the fact that he encouraged his supporters to sacrifice themselves in their attempts to stop the demonstration is both dangerous and reeks of double standards.

Not too long ago, Maulana Fazl-ur-Rehman himself was leading the Azadi March in Islamabad; why does he think that he is the only one entitled to the right to assemble and voice one’s opinion?

In response the Fazl-ur-Rehman’s call, PPP has thrown its weight behind the Aurat March, which is positive, but under normal circumstance would not have been relevant in any way. The right to protest is the only way the general public can use its voice directly to express themselves in a bid to seek some sort of improvements from the state.

The representatives of the people and their parties already have voices in the parliament and in government. If this right needs a stamp of approval from political parties before demonstrating, what then is really the point behind the protest? A peaceful protest should be allowed and whether an important political figurehead is leading it should not matter.

Now that political parties have already starting adding their two cents to the discussion, the most helpful thing at this point would be if the Prime Minister, the Human Rights Ministry or the Cabinet clarifies their stance. Since the laws of the country are very clear, the government will quite obviously believe that the march should be allowed in principle. The JUI-F chief is looking to get confrontational, and it is the government’s responsibility to ensure that no one is allowed to intimidate other protesters.