The Sunni Ittehad Council had planned a Long March on Sunday and Monday to protest the attacks on shrines, as well as the price hike, but was halted in its inception by the Rawalpindi police. However, it has reached Dina, Jhelum. It must be noted that the Council, which is chaired by a PML(N) MNA, was protesting against the recent attacks on shrines, and was to begin its march at Bari Imam in Islamabad and end it at Data Darbar in Lahore, where there was to have been a rally on Monday. Both have been targets of suicide bomb attacks. However, the Punjab government was unable to persuade the Council to call off the march, and instead used force to stop it. This reflected an unfortunate attitude, which did not concede to a portion of the citizenry the right to express itself. The question is not whether the opinion expressed is popular or not, which is a risk that the protester is supposed to take. Also, as long as the method of expressing that protest is legal, the government should let it take place, rather than rely, as in the present case, on oppressive British-era laws and Raj-era methods to suppress protest. The government may have suppressed the protest, but it should pay close attention to the causes. It should also focus on the price hike protest, for that is something that can be mentioned in any protest, so much of a constant it has been. However, the bombing of shrines needs to be looked into very closely, and the role played by the recent blasphemy case in inflaming sentiment needs to be considered. In this connection, the statement by Ismail Qureshi, author of the book 'Blasphemy and the Blasphemy Law, is significant. He has pointed out that the USA has a death sentence for blasphemy against Christ, and he has also predicted that if the blasphemy law was repealed, as demanded by those who did not want Aasia Bibi, the blasphemy convict under death sentence, executed, the blasphemers would be punished by people taking the law into their own hands. There is weight in what he says, as the old case of Ghazi Ilm Din Shaheed illustrates. It should be remembered that the emotions generated by the Aasia Bibi case only heightened after the Punjab Governor took up her case, going to the extent of visiting her in jail. Such emotions give impetus to protests such as the Councils. The government must tread carefully where the religious sentiments of the people are concerned. It must also concede to others the right of protest it arrogated to itself when PML(N) Quaid Mian Nawaz Sharif led a Long March for the restoration of the judiciary. That was also suppressed by the government under Governors Rule, and if that was wrong, so was this.