There was a lot of exciting news yesterday but the most impactful event was the release of the Supreme Court judgment on the government’s handling of the Faizabad sit-in. The verdict was one of the most punch packing judgment the Court has written this year, due to its addressing a wide range of issues.

The judgment included hard hitting verdicts on so many questions that it will take time for the verdict’s true impact to unravel. Some of the matters that the Court dwelt into were the issues of censorship in the media, PEMRA turning a blind eye towards hate speech, the Election Commission of Pakistan’s leniency to extremist parties, political interference by intelligence agencies and the government’s inefficiency in taking law-breakers from right-wing parties to task- all of these are heavy handed issues which the Courts have shied away from commenting on before, and are bound to be further analysed and create political stir in the days to come.

Out of all the issues raised, perhaps the most defining stance that the Court took in its judgment was effectively invalidating Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) as a political party by law. The judgment pointed out TLP violated subsection (4) of section 200 and Section 211 of the Elections Act, 2017 due to its foreign funding and refusal to provide information about funding respectively, and castigated the ECP for not taking action against the violations. Moreover, to dispel any apologetics for TLP who argue that the Faizabad sit-in was legal, the Court ruled that TLP protest “provoked religious sentiment, stoked the flames of hatred, abused, resorted to violence and destroyed property worth 163,952,000 rupees”.

The second meaningful takeaway, out of many from the verdict, is the Court’s addressal of the government’s failure to prepare for the Faizabad protests, and its leniency towards right wing extremist law-breakers. The judgment points out how there was little preparation or preplanning by the government towards countering TLP, and a general lack of vision and decisiveness overall in the State’s approach towards such factions. This is significant since an absence of clarity and a lack of preparedness to deal with such events is the situation even today, as we saw in the Aasia Bibi verdict fiasco.

The verdict touches upon many issues and is likely to incur disagreements and debate in the following days. However, it lists down some undeniable lessons for the State to learn from Faizabad, the most glaring one being that glossing over the law to allow extremist factions to fester can have devastating consequences for the writ of state.