Never before in the political history of Pakistan has the state succumbed so completely to the vandalism, abuse and commands of an extra-parliamentary group, like it has done in Faizabad.
For more than two weeks, the twin cities were held hostage by a self-appointed clergyman who has gained a comical international notoriety due to his imagination for vitriolic speeches. And now, what seemed like a mismanaged farce ends in the government’s greatest shame, in the death of the dream of statehood.
Zahid Hamid’s resignation from his post is the defeat of the federation’s administrative and moral upper-hand. There could not have been a worse way to handle this crisis from any front, and at any point in time. That a man like Maulana Rizvi has forced out a man with a bachelors and masters degree from Cambridge University, that he has been allowed the power to incite violent protests around the country, to send the government spluttering and confused to the army which has negotiated no deal but instead effectively advised the state to decapitate itself. We must be clear: This was no negotiation, it was an unconditional surrender. And let there be no doubt, Pakistan will face the repercussions of this precedent in the years to come.
The Islamabad High Court’s lambasting of the military’s role as arbitrator is welcome and justified. That an institution constitutionally subservient to the government for all
intents and purposes refused to assist in dispersing violent protestors after an SRO was issued, that it instead lent a helping hand in the pitiful surrender of the elected government is cause for terror and hopelessness.
Every demand of the protestors has been met, including amnesty for arrested protestors. How did the government allow it to come to this? With all its might, its resources and wisdom, it flailed, floundered and ultimately surrendered to a party of religious hardliners with no parliamentary representation, a party unheard of until a few months ago and worse still, it has legitimised them as a great force to be reckoned with.