The pressure had been building up, the threats were hurled with a reckless abandon, violence was hanging in the air – it was only a matter of time. No one could have predicted the heinous assassination attempt on the Interior Minister, Ahsan Iqbal, but we all could have predicted something exactly like this. The toxic narrative of Tehreek-e-Labbaik had been allowed to exist and propagate itself unchecked, and we are all responsible.

Not responsible directly. The blame lies squarely on Khadim Rizvi and his ilk, who have openly called for people to take up arms against the rulers if they perceive them to have committed blasphemy against the prophet. They have gone on to then label our ministers and politicians blasphemers, challenged the writ of the state, shut down the country and blackmailed the government into acceding to their demands. There is no need to look for a smoking gun – the smoking debris of Faizabad is all the evidence we need.

But beyond the actions of a hate-based group – the state has been found equally responsible. It is they who have given space to this narrative; it is they who have bowed down before it.

At the zenith of the Faizabad chaos, with the nation’s security and functioning under threat, the military chose to appease the protestors instead of clamping down on them for what they really were; religiously extremist using violence to enforce their demands – in other words, terrorists. Nawaz Sharif is correct in pointing out that “this is the result of the distribution of Rs1,000 to the protesters” – referring to the now infamous video where representatives of the armed forces handed cash to the dispersing protestors, lovingly asking them “aren’t we with you”. The perception created that day, that the armed forces are happy to sit back and let the TLP wreak havoc against the civilian government, emboldened the group unimaginably – and is the source of all their protests to follow. Considering how the military is clamping down on the Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM) by contrast only goes to show how the armed forces have tacitly allowed the group to spread.

But before Nawaz Sharif can go pointing fingers at others, he has to look at his own party, and closer still towards his own family. The Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N) has always pandered to right wing groups, laid down arms against them and capitulated to their demands – be it the TLP or the standoff with the Wafakul-Madaris over registration of seminaries, the result has been the same.

Its members routinely air the same vitriolic rhetoric in the parliament that Khadim Rizvi spreads in the streets. His own son-in-law, husband to the heir apparent, Captain Safdar, has been the biggest purveyor of such bigotry, and yet he has suffered no consequences for his shameful utterances. Ahsan Iqbal’s blood is equally on his – and by extension the PML-N’s – hands.