The decision of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) to take action against those who were involved in vandalism in the days of “protests” against the orders of the Supreme Court of Pakistan (SCP) to set Aasia Bibi free is a much-needed action to take. These “protests” were nothing but riots. There is a difference between a protest and a riot that neither the leaders of the protesting religious parties understand nor the supporters of such groups.

The three-day long protests had been a display of vandalism and mob mentality. The government must investigate the instances where the mob has damaged properties and unleashed violence on ordinary people. It is hoped that the state will investigate all such cases and bring the responsible ones to the account for their actions. For if the state fails in bringing the culprits before the law, the ordinary person will lose his/her faith in the writ of the government.

Furthermore, the government should face no hurdle in going against the miscreants who had inflicted loss on the citizens and their properties as the leaders who made calls for protest deny their affiliation with their parties.

However, just going against people involved in acts of vandalism will not solve the problem. The government also understands this as it has already directed Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) and Federal Investigation Agency (FIA)’s Cyber Crime Wing to point out people who were involved in inciting people to damage state’s installations and public properties. Again, the government is doing what National Action Plan (NAP) demands from the government.

It is true that the government has not successfully implemented the points of the NAP. However, it is not all lost if the government is serious in implementing the plan, which was devised to create a tolerant Pakistan, even this late.

Believing the words of the Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry that “it was a temporary solution to diffuse the situation” the state needs to come up with a comprehensive solution that can ensure that people respect the court orders. Otherwise, people will start believing in the efficacy of violence for making their demands accepted.

If the government successfully arrests all miscreants, it will help the state in establishing its writ. Any weakness shown to the mob mentality will seriously jeopardise the sanctity of the Constitution in general and the “Fundamental Rights” in particular. Therefore, the government has no other option but to take its crackdown against the rioters to a logical conclusion by punishing them for their actions.