Reportedly, JUI-F Chief Maulana Fazl-ur-Rehman is attempting to rally religious parties to protest against the 21st amendment. What has irked the Maulana is not the growing role of the military or the government’s inability to reform the criminal justice system, but passages that link “religion” with terrorism and sectarianism. Another issue close to the JUI-F Chief’s heart is what he fears to be an approaching onslaught on religious seminaries. To truly understand Fazl-ur-Rehman’s dilemma, it is important to recall that he too has escaped suicide attacks. Most recently, he was attacked as he left a JUI-F rally in Quetta. This prompted the Maulana to reach out for reconciliation with other members of his school of thought, such as ASWJ Chief Muhammad Ahmed Ludhianvi. And just when Maulana has started to feel safe once again, he finds himself being asked to support the 21st amendment and betray his friends, who are never keen on forgiving.

Ideological leanings, political considerations, economic interests and personal safety - these are the major factors coming together to shape Fazl-ur-Rehman’s current stance. His ‘concerns’ are shared by entities that he is attempting to unite to offer meaningful resistance. Considering the fact that any action is yet to be taken against religious seminaries and there is absolutely no plan to blanket all seminaries under a single category to ‘target’ them, Fazl-ur-Rehman and friends are demonstrating the sort of panic and anguish that doesn’t usually afflict innocent souls. There is no reason that religious seminaries operating on Pakistan’s soil and suspected or known to be spreading intolerance and violence should remain immune to legal action. Those, by way of exerting political pressure through street agitation or uttering meaningless, meandering gibberish in parliament, should no more be allowed to hamper the safety of this country’s children. It is important that they are reminded of their role in days, years and decades leading to the massacre of children and staff at the Army Public School in Peshawar on 16-12-2014. Similarly, the PML-N government can no longer be allowed to compromise on national security for political expedience. The military too cannot be permitted to patronize radical preachers or militants anymore. All entities responsible for creating this mess and now tasked with cleaning it, should be held accountable every step of the way. Maulana Fazl-ur-Rehman and others of his ilk are acting to preserve their own interests while showing no regard for the welfare of the people. If the state finally acts against seminaries that trade in the business of hate and violence, and the Maulana feels that an innocent entity has been targeted, he can always resign in protest or go to court for redress. But he will probably rouse religious sentiments, bring blind followers on the streets and issue barely veiled threats, as always. The state and its citizens must endure and resist. JUI-F and allies will prove no more helpful than they are now if the Peshawar tragedy were to repeat itself.