Call it Imran Khan’s fortune, or the government’s misfortune, but whenever the Captain and his party decide to march on Islamabad they tend to find allies in the nick of time from the most unlikeliest of sources. Last time we witnessed the landfall of one Tahir-ul-Qadri – a firebrand cleric with a flair for the dramatic. This time the unexpected allies are clerics too, but a lot less benign, a lot less in the limelight and a lot more dangerous.

The alliance has been dented, at least for the time being. A delegation from the Difa-e-Pakistan Council (DPC) – an umbrella organisation of religious parties that includes Samiul Haq of the Darum Uloom Haqqania, Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat chief Mohammad Ahmed Ludhianvi and Jamiat Ulema-i-Pakistan leader Anas Noorani – met with the Interior Minister on Friday. The reason: the DPC had scheduled its protest in Islamabad to coincide with Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf’s (PTI), and were even “considering the request from the PTI to join in.”

With Chaudry Nisar leading the line, it looks like a deal has been struck and that threat is nullified, but the trade-off looks dangerous, and the government weak and under pressure.

Chaudry Nisar has said that citizenship of suspected terrorists included in the fourth schedule of the antiterrorism law could not be taken away, and directed relevant authorities to reverse the decisions taken in the past. These suspects are the same as those considering allying with the PTI. According to the Interior Minister “All those enlisted in the Fourth Schedule [of the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997] are Pakistani nationals. How can they be denied their right to identification — CNIC?”

He makes a valid point, even serious criminals and hardcore terrorists remain citizens till the end, and as citizens they deserve their rights, but the question here is, is getting a CNIC part of those unalienable citizenship rights?

The answer is no. The right to bear a valid CNIC and the benefits that come with it are often taken away by the government – as it had been doing for the fourth schedulers up till this announcement. There was a reason these names were on the fourth schedule; they were associated with terrorism, suspected of anti-state activities and disseminated hate speech. Their activities need to be hindered, and not giving them a CNIC went a long way towards that. And while the government may currently find it difficult to divest some of their CNICs, others such as Malik Ishaq fall silent through other means.

These are the same people the Prime Minister ordered to be arrested after the Gulshan-e-Iqbal attack earlier this year, the same people for whom the government imported 800 tracking chips in 2008. All of a sudden their “unalienable right” became paramount and they go free.

It seems that the government has been strong-armed, that to without much effort. It usually fights tooth and nail when things such as educational reforms are purposed, but it caves like a house of cards at the slightest challenge from religious groups. It is not surprising the government is asked to “do more” from every corner of the country and beyond.