It seems inexplicable, that Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP), which seemed like such a fixed and menacing presence in the Pakistani political space, has been brought to heel overnight, and without much difficulty it must be added. Not only is their fiery leader, Khadim Rizvi, in “protective custody”, many leaders of the party have been arrested for attempting to protest his detention. This is far cry from the caution with which the government had been treating the party and its threat of protest before, and what is even more astonishing, is the calm that has followed. No roads blocked, no cities vandalised, no police officers hurt.

All of which makes one wonder where was this administrative efficiency when TLP was running amok in the country – and perhaps even more importantly, what is the end game here?

The Punjab Government, which arrested Khadim Rizvi, has already arrested many of his supporters from Lahore; meanwhile the Sindh government is dusting off laws from the 60s to keep TLP leaders detained. According to reports the Sindh government has invoked the 1960 Maintenance of Public Order (MPO) law to detain 156 leaders and workers of Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) for 30 days.  

However the complete lack of disorder suggests more is going on behind the scenes; after all it is not as if the whole party was forcibly subjugated by the law enforcement agencies, after a few arrests the remaining TLP leadership seemingly accepted its fate.

This impression is bolstered by recent developments. Leaders of Pakistan Sunni Tehreek (PST) and its allied parties have distanced themselves from TLP’s call for coun¬trywide protest on November 25 and said they were never part of TLP. Leaders such as Khalid Hassan Attari, Imran Soharwardi, Allama Jawad Raza Barkati, Allama Muharram Din Qadri and others went so far as to condemn hate speeches by TLP head Khadim Rizvi. This exodus of Barelvi groups from TLP’s camp is a blow to its power base – the same one that takes to the streets.

The question still remains, what is the end game here?

Federal Minister of Human Rights Shireen Mazari recently took to twitter to say that “rule of law, constitution and writ of state will be upheld”. But that can be interpreted in a number of ways. Will the party be charged for its vandalism and hate speech? Will the government seek as agreement with the group? Will it be satisfied with isolating its power base and letting Khadim Rizvi go back into the open – a lesson firmly taught?

This remains to be seen