On December 18, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan made a very important policy speech from the floor of the National Assembly of Pakistan. Our country’s Interior Minister, who by his own admission at the beginning of the same speech, remains central coordinator of Pakistan’s National Action Plan (NAP) for countering terrorism. Among several other things, he revealed that there was no case registered against the rogue Mullah of the Lal Masjid, a government-owned mosque in the heart of the Capital. And that was the reason why he was not able to arrest the Mullah as per the demand of civil society.

This sent a wave of outrage among a section of civil society. So much so that this writer was pushed to pen an open letter addressed to the Interior Minister. The letter went viral on social media and later ran on TV screens of various news channels. But it was only after watching that evening’s media, which was unabashedly attacking the Interior Minister. Just the Interior Minister. As if all the other institutions of the state were already pushing for the arrest of the scalawag Mullah, but it was just the Interior Minister who was posing hurdles in this arrest of the century. Never knew Mr. Khan was such an establishment-defying scavenger!

Some elements of civil society had been demanding this Mullah’s arrest ever since last year’s ferocious attack on the children at Army Public School (APS) in Peshawar. The charge in their imagination was that he refused to condemn the APS attack. After getting the blessings from the ‘necessary quarters’, this section of brave civil society stalwarts intensified their campaign against the Mullah. Although the focus remained on his refusal to be furious on someone we are furious at. The FIR that was lodged December last year, however, accused him of threatening the activists with murder. This was the kind of FIR, which is normally registered by the Police when they do not want someone to get punished. Anyone familiar with the criminal justice system in Pakistan would tell us at least this much.

So then, what was the ruckus about? We are not even touching the original crime of the Mullah let alone calling out the state institutions that have nourished and reared this snake right in front of us since many years. A well-meaning young man came all the way from Karachi to Islamabad just to challenge the Mullah last year, after the latter’s televised refusal to condemn the APS attack. People of Islamabad responded very warmly. We were shocked and stunned and did not know what to do. We went out on streets calling for the arrest of the Mullah. That was probably when some institutions, some necessary institutions of this country, thought it was just the right time to co-opt the movement and take some work out of the citizens innocently expressing their rage against anybody they thought was supporter of the terrorists.

And that became the time when everything started being about the Lal Masjid Mullah and the ‘incompetence’ and ‘complicity’ of the political governments. Be it in Sindh or in Punjab or the Federation. Except Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and those mentioned in the name of the school. It, however, lost its vigour as usually happens with the ‘movements’ like Tehrik-e-Istaqlal, etc. Central questions were never raised. Even the demand of broad based inquiry of the APS attack, made by the parents of slain children, was never adopted as the ‘movement’s’ main demand.

That ‘movement’ was eventually reduced to emotional outbursts on every month’s 16th day and on the anniversary. Just like the usual Pakistani way. Emotions come really easy to us. Maybe because it is convenient too. Shedding tears and raising slogans does enough of catharsis that there’s very little drive of the conscience to ask difficult but necessary questions from the powers. Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, the Interior Minister, became our favourite punching bag. Probably because of his lose cannon speeches. Or maybe someone wanted him to be attacked. Or maybe he also willingly got attacked because that way eventually someone else was being indirectly attacked.

Questions, questions, questions. Quite uncomfortable ones at that! Some of these key questions might be:

One: If rge refusal to condemn our children’s atrocious murders is why we are upset with this Mullah, why were we never bothered about conducting similar campaigns against Munawwar Hassan, Tariq Jamil and Maulana Samiul Haq to name a few? No green signal on that yet?

Two: Why did we fail to make the assassination of Pakistan Army’s Colonol Haroon-ul-Islam Shaheed one of our grievances against the Mullah? Did we challenge the state on this particular case? Did we ask our Armed Forces if they wanted to appeal the acquittal of Aziz in that case? If they don’t, why not? Wasn’t it a better course for some of our institutions than making random calls to journalists and this Neo-Civil Society telling them about the resolve for seeing the Mullah behind the bars, but the civilian government was putting hurdles in realisation of that dream?

Three: Did we think for a moment if the court should be moved once again against its own 2012 decision of paying of blood money by the state of Pakistan to Lal Masjid for people killed in the operation? Why we failed to ask who would pay for the blood of our precious soldiers and officers of Pakistan Army who laid their lives during the operation? Did we ask why the former dictator Musharraf was being tried in the court of law for holding operation against the same Mullah we are asking a civilian government to arrest? Complicated, right?

Four: Did we ask who is the officially appointed Khateeb of Lal Masjid? Who appointed him and when? What is the status of this crook of a Mullah in the current structure of the mosque sanctioned by the state?

Five: Did we ask who sanctioned this Mullah and his family to remain in-charge of the mosque after a bloody operation was conducted on it, which ate up many civilian and military lives? Why didn’t we ask who brokered the financial assistance that land mafia dons like Malik Riaz and Taji Khokhar ended up extended to Lal Masjid for its extension and renovation? This family dominating a network of madrassas is not even being noticed by those passionately against the ‘family politics’.

Six: Why couldn’t any one of us, or the government, register a case against Umme Hasaan for pledging allegiance to Daesh and her husband Mullah Aziz for supporting and seconding her in a TV interview later? Alright, the government was incompetent and we were too afraid for our lives, where were the institutions who are now assuring random people from media of giving ‘green signal’ to the Interior Ministry?

These are but a few questions enough to pinch our collective conscience on our selective rage as well as how all of us and our vigour for the causes we take up, at one level, are amenable to be used by those playing big games. Our causes, some of the times, become pawns for these big guys. Sigh!

The writer is an Islamabad based freelance columnist.