Religious parties have made their stance clear on how they feel about recent developments by the government - approaching it as an almost government versus religion issue. Two-dozen religious parties have announced to launch a countrywide protest movement against what they called anti-Islam steps by the PML-N government.

At the Mansura headquarters of the Jamaat-e-Islami, participants said would jointly organise conventions in Rawalpindi, Karachi, Peshawar, Lahore and Gilgit and later hold a million-march in Islamabad to mount pressure on the government to ‘enforce Islamic laws and make Pakistan a corruption-free state’. JI chief Sirajul Haq presided over the meeting while JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman, and heads of other religious seminaries and custodians of different shrines attended this ‘Nizam-e-Mustafa Conference.’

These religious leaders have made it clear that they are furious at the government’s decision to execute Mumtaz Qadri, and the passage of the Women Protection Act by the Punjab Assembly. It has been too much too fast. However, their ideas of government and democracy are shockingly rudimental, and they do not realise they are only able to congregate and protest because they live in a democratic setup. Their likes would be dealt with swiftly in countries like Iran and Saudi Arabia. They feel the government is changing the Islamic identity of Pakistan, but that can never happen so long as ninety percent of the populace is Muslim.

The fact is, that in a liberal secular Pakistan, Islamic parties could survive and flourish and compete, but in a non-democratic Sharia led state, only one type of party and one sect can flourish. These parties now united against the state will break up and end up fighting amongst themselves, and the first stone has already been thrown (at Junaid Jamshed). Many would like to see the perfect system, where all men are pious and everyone lives in a truly “Islamic” way, yet this utopia is not possible, especially with such a diversity of sects, ethnicities and religions. Thus the compromise on democracy, and some form of secularism and pluralism so that minorities have room to breathe. But these are complex realities that the mob at D-chowk cannot fathom. These were men that truly felt that a shoe thrown at the sky could “scare” a helicopter, and this is the constituency of these Islamic parties.

In the face of such ignorance the state does not have to be afraid. It can fall back on the law and the constitution, which have a clearly Islamic nature, and defend its stance. Any challenge to the government needs to be called out, because if the mullahs are right, and they deserve space without being elected, that means the government does not believe in its own legitimacy.