With mainstream religious parties like Jamaat Islami (JI) and Jamaat Ulema-e-Islam Fazal (JUI-F) banding together to demand the release of Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) Cheif Hafiz Saeed, it wasn’t going to be long before smaller parties joined the chorus. On Wednesday, around 25 religious parties and groups that form Milli Yakjehti Council (MYC) decided to launch a protest movement for the release of Hafiz Saeed and added the demand for the “protection of Islamic laws in the country” for good measure to their agenda. While it does seem that the opinion is stacking up against the detention of the JuD chief, a closer inspection dispels that notion completely – these protests are limited to a very small cross-section of the political spectrum.

All major political parties – ones that can boast of a nationwide following – have stayed away from the issue, tacitly supporting the army and the government, while the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) has vocally advocated the action. As it stands, even this formulation pits the overwhelming majority of the nation’s institutes and political parties in favour of this long overdue detention, leaving the religious parties to fight a lonely battle against rule of law and the writ of the state.

This lonely battle is further discredited when we consider that each party has a vested interest in the matter. One of the MYC’s main constituent party is JuD, while the Difa-e-Pakistan Council (DPC) is also composed of the JuD and many of the protesting religious parties. Religious parties have always favoured banding together when opposing “secular parties”, and in this case the protest are less about a principle opposition to the detention and more about protecting one’s own.

As the completely unrelated demand to “protect the two-nation theory” and “safeguard the blasphemy law” shows, these protests fall into the generic category of rallies taken out to “protect Islam”, which is the go-to tactic of religious parties to gain political traction – only in this case, Islam was never threatened.

Hence the government has little to be worried about. The MYC’s previous protests – for stellar causes such as repealing the Women Protection Bill and opposing un-Islamic changes in the syllabus – petered out without any significant disruption. Even if the present protests threaten to be more challenging than the ones before, the government’s strategy must remain the same – let the protesters carry out their demonstrations peacefully, and prevent them from causing unrest or damage. With the state and the public behind the government, these protests will eventually die out soon.