Give a man an inch and he will take a yard. We thought the Faizabad fiasco, as mishandled as it was, was finally over, with the protesters leaving satisfied, with their gifted thousand-rupee notes. Yet, we underestimated the scope of it; aside from creating a culture of unlawful protests, the Faizabad crowd is now using their victory to ask for impossible over-the-top demands.

Pir Hameeduddin Sialvi, at the Khatm-i-Nabuwat Conference on Saturday, set yet another deadline for the government, this time for enforcing “Shariah” within seven days or risk protests in every nook and corner of the country. The protest had originally started with a single demand of resignation by Law Minister Rana Sanaullah for his allegedly controversial remarks in a TV programme, but the Pir from Sial Sharif has upgraded to asking for a nation-wide imposition of “Shariah”.

This has gone too far; there is a fine line between protests demanding immediate action within the framework of democracy and terrorism – the act of using force to enforce ideologies. This demand by Pir Sialvi is straying firmly into the latter category. The actions of Sialvi are formidably reminiscent of those of the Taliban in 2007 in Swat - this is exactly what they wanted and how they demanded it. The government needs to pick up on these warning signs - Sialvi has made it clear that his supporters are not above touting the law to get what they want-making this action increasingly closer to incentivising breaking the law.

Secondly, it is unclear what Sialvi means by “Shariah”, Pakistan is already an Islamic Republic, with Shariah compliant laws and courts. History has taught us that whenever extremist and militant-type groups call for Shariah, they always mean stricter laws for women and minorities. The example of Afghanistan – ruled under strict Shariah law for decades – is clear to see.

Lastly, a protest to secure the resignation of a minister over a perceived legal mistake - as contrived and inflammatory as that cause was –still makes some democratic sense. Those protests were still understandable; this is just plain old arm-twisting and destabilization. The demand is completely unreasonable, and no group will be allowed to enforce its views on the nation. This is akin to holding democracy hostage through use of unlawful protests-a precedent that would be debilitating if allowed.

Sialvi just graduated from a political dissident to a potential instigator and criminal - he must refrain from mass “protests” if he wishes to remain the former.