Finally the Faizabad sit-in has been called off by the religious clerics after reaching a deal with the Government. The power military elite played a role in this and convinced the Government to ‘sacrifice’ Zahid Hamid . The law minister has resigned and the religious fanatics emerged as the victor.
The government’s effort to disperse the protestors resulted in riots and protests across the country with religious fanatics occupying the major cities’ roads and burning and damaging public properties. Even now the situation is uncertain. The roads of Rawalpindi and Islamabad have been seized by the men equipped with sticks and stones.
The religious fanatics are enjoying the support of a large section of the masses as the card of religion is being played cleverly by them. In Faizabad the main headquarters of the sit-in, a religious cleric Khadim Rizvi is virtually threatening to take the government down. The ministers and lawmakers from the ruling party are all hiding fearing attacks on them by the angry mob. And they rightly fear this, as the law minister and ex interior minister’s homes were set on fire by the mob.
The government has virtually lost control of the situation and adding to the problem is the Army’s response that has cleverly tilted the situation in favor of religious fanatics. A tweet from DG ISPR, at a crucial time, stated that the Army chief called the prime minister and told him not to use force against the religious fanatics, in fact the tweet stated that both sides should resolve the matter peacefully. The timing and tone of this message has actually damaged the government’s position.
First the faction of religious fanatics is being declared a stakeholder and then the State is being told that the Army will only protect buildings and will not disperse the mob. At a time when police were fighting on the front line against these fanatics the powerful military chose to just sit and watch the show. When the police were busy fighting with the religious terrorists and putting their lives at stake our mighty establishment was watching this whole show and did not come to help the government to disperse the fanatics.
Every sane individual knows who was supporting the sit-in at Faizabad since the beginning; the use of proxies to get the desired result has actually brought us to a position where the whole world makes a mockery of us. First Bhutto was toppled by using the same proxy of religious clerics and by launching the famous PNA movement ultimately resulting in Bhutto’s ouster and hanging. But the cost we paid as a State and society for that adventure was too high. The religious clerics brought the culture of jihad and hatred for other sects and minorities in the country resulting in the deadliest bloodshed in the early and late 90s in the name of sects and religion.
On the other hand people like Hafiz Saeed , Mullah Fazlullah and Omar Khalid Khorasani and many mullahs were patronized and perceived as strategic assets to counter enemies, but they actually became Frankensteins and started killing the creators. Now history is being repeated again, a similar PNA type movement is being launched by playing the blasphemy card and new strategic assets like Khadim Rizvi are being launched. Sadly, the authority that controls and dictates the religious and defence narratives of the State is not willing to learn from past mistakes. It is also not willing to understand the simple point that the world is being ruled by logic and knowledge, not by weapons and religious beliefs.
In order to control and manipulate the State narratives the mighty establishment has actually weakened the State itself by going against the basic ideologies of the founding father of the nation. The alliance of the establishment and mullahs has actually given birth to the millions of extremists and they are virtually ticking time bombs, it only being a matter of time before they explode and take everything down with them. We have seen it in the past, almost 70,000 people dead in a decade being the result of this extreme mindset and if we are still not ready to quit the habit of nurturing religious fanatics then we will surely see many more dead.
It is not the government that is losing, it is acutely the State that is weakening. The fanatics, armed with sticks and stones and burning public property, are portraying an image of a failed State and society to the world. Using religion for the gain of authority or to counter the enemy has actually buried the concept of a ‘social state’ and resulted in a State that is only hallucinated with countering conspiracies and threats which are actually not there in reality. After all, a society busy in self destruction does not need any external threat or enemy to diminish it.
On the other hand, as an individual and as a society we have become the same drug addict who finds satisfaction by getting himself bitten by the snake. We worship the pirs, the mullahs and other fanatics despite knowing that these religious clerics are the snakes and they have always bitten us. From Maulana Abdul Aziz to Omar Khorasani and from Maulvi Fazulullah to Malik Ishaq; they all only killed the ones among us, not the so called enemies. I am sure the majority of people in our country have not read the amendments of the controversial bill that actually resulted in the riots, otherwise, they would have easily understood that there was nothing in the bill or amendment that can be termed blasphemous. But since we love to live in ignorance and find hatred to be the only way of catharsis, it really does not matter.
Coming back to the sit-in, the incumbent government has actually lost authority and was unable to establish its authority on the mobs of religious fanatics. This means that the fight for authority and power is over and the mighty establishment has successfully put the final nail in the coffin of Sharif’s politics and his party. Sharif has surely now lost his stronghold of Punjab as the riots are spreading there and it will be the miracle of the century if Sharif survives this onslaught and escapes the same fate Bhutto’s.
A victory finally for the establishment but this victory has come at a very high price. The social fabric and structure of the State is being destroyed in this fight. The trend of mob justice is being set and very soon the establishment will understand that this trend will not even spare them. The State is paralyzed and the whole world is watching a nuclear State held hostage to the religious fanatics whose only motive in life is to kill others in the name of religion and blasphemy. From now on, to survive in the country, common citizens will need certificates of patriotism and faith from the patriotic and religious authorities. The fanatics will decide who is a culprit and who is a holy man.
The almighty establishment, in an effort to undermine the sitting government and Nawaz Sharif’s party, has actually undermined the State of Pakistan. Sharif has certainly gone but with him also the writ of the State. Unfortunately, this ugly blasphemy card has not only weakened Sharif’s party but also undermined the State. We all, as always, stood silently and watched another lynching like Mashal Khan’s. But this time, we were all witnessing the lynching of our generations to come. It was a lynching of a State by the State within.