The shipping container placed sideways on an urban road has become the symbol of state oppression and censor of late, but sometimes this container must be taken for what it is – a last ditch attempt by the government to keep unruly and violent crowds at bay. On Wednesday, it was this and much more; it was a necessary wall to hedge back a divisive and dangerous ideology.

Throughout the day, large parts of Lahore remained cordoned off, while others were jam-packed with traffic as police fought – with tear gas, water cannons and baton charges – to contain rallies taken out by religious groups to protest the commemoration of Salman Taseer’s death anniversary.

‘Protesting’ the vigils held for the slain Governor were only a small part of the mob’s plans. This was a show of force and a political statement, as workers of the Tehreek-e-Lubbaik-Ya-Rasool-Allah, Sunni Tehreek and the Tehreek-e-Khatme Nabuwat intended to celebrate ‘Tahuffaz-i-Namoos-i-Risalat day’ – with the intent to celebrate the actions of convicted murderer, Mumtaz Qadri, who was executed roughly a year ago.

These groups were denied permission by the authorities to hold their rally, but in defiance of this order decided to continue with their march. The reason why this strong response by the government was necessary is because of the message it carries. Anti-terrorist courts tried and convicted Mumtaz Qadri of murder and terrorism, the state labelled him as such and executed him. Yet, the mob not only carried banners and pictures of Mumtaz Qadri, depicting him as a hero, but continued to advocate for anyone similarly inspired to take the law into their own hands, and kill at will. Their slogans bay for blood and their speeches spew hatred. The ‘right to protest’ exists in all countries, as in Pakistan, but it was correctly and justly not granted yesterday.

In the face of such violent intent, the Government is encouraged to take all steps necessary to contain them. Yes, Lahore had to face traffic gridlocks, but this is not too big a price to pay when it comes to dealing with issues that many in previous governments never dared to deal with. There should be no room for anyone – even clerics – to think that no one would dare resist them, not even the government.

As such the authorities must be praised for their strong and decisive action against the forces of religious extremism – including for executing a convicted murderer – and it is hoped that the police keeps up its courage. They did the right thing. And long may they continue to do so.