As the nation comes together in grief and shock over the slaughter of innocent women and children at the heart of Lahore, there are those who take advantage of a wounded nation to instigate more violence and gore. Ten thousand Mumtaz Qadri supporters ransacked the capital on Sunday to protest the execution of the former Punjab police commando hanged last month for the murder of Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer. As much as we champion freedom of expression and the right to opinion, the nation does not have the patience anymore amidst death and fear to sympathise with those who defend murderers and demand that the country honour Qadri’s memory and brand him a hero.

There is no grey area, only a red line, and these men are on the wrong side of it.

The mob that assaulted security personnel and damaged public and private property without any resistance should have been planned for by the government. It is shocking how unprepared the leadership was for an event that should have been preempted. After all what more can be expected from those who idiolise a murderer, and then have the audacity to blanket the crime within the realms of Shariah? A violent mob approached the capital from 15 km away and those who are supposed to curtail the threat remain invisible, namely the Interior minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan as well as Police officials. The army had to be called upon to control the situation and yet 2000 strong shamelessly continue to occupy the red zone in ‘peaceful protest’.

While we respect the government-ordered news blackout, which is intended to prevent the unrest from spinning out of control, instead of focusing on curtailing media reporting, the government and the army should formulate a plan to eliminate this extremist ideology and take a clear stand. Now is the time for these “religious leaders” to choose if they are with the state. If not, their actions are criminal. The set of 10 demands issued by these protestors are nothing short of ludicrous, and include the unconditional release of all clerics and leaders booked on charges terrorism and murder. These go against the very basis of the National Action Plan and cannot be up for dialogue. The recognition of Mumtaz Qadri as a martyr and the conversion of his Adiala Jail cell into a national heritage site must never happen, and will never happen. We cannot and will not revere murderers and terrorists.