Tuesday, 8:22 pm - just a few minutes before the two hour ultimatum to the protestors ends. I can hear the protesters in front of the Parliament House picking up momentum and chanting louder and louder, “Labbaik Ya Rasool Allah,” as over 7,000 forces moved in closer in an effort to persuade them to retreat. As I walked away from the tense scene, expecting a violent situation to unravel at any moment, I thought to myself, perhaps their brand of ‘Islam-has indeed become-abad.’

Since Sunday evening, Pakistan’s capital has been on high security alert in the midst of chaos, with many of the main roads blocked, metro closed and mobile networks suspended.

Sunday’s mass pro-Qadri protest on the Chehlum of Mumtaz Qadri, murderer of Punjab governor Salman Taseer, dumbfounded the nation in an embarrassing situation as the thousands of protesters turned violent and marched on to Islamabad, essentially laying siege to the capital’s Red-Zone.

In an unanticipated situation, the adamant protesters gave their ten demands, of which foremost was to declare Mumtaz Qadri - a murderer - as a martyr. The protesters, mostly of the Barelvi school of thought, remain committed to stay in D-Chowk up till now, until these non-negotiable demands are met.

Tear gas had been used and the armed forces were requisitioned Sunday night as the protesters became more violent and burned containers and damaged the metro stations and other public property.

Upon arrival of the army, most of the 10,000 retreated, however, approximately 1,000 remained, hard-lined and prepared to put up a fight. On Monday, only a little less than a thousand were left and by Tuesday the numbers dwindled to a few hundred.

By Tuesday night, the government gave a two hour ultimatum to the protesters as 7,000 security forces including paramilitary rangers, Frontier Corps and Punjab Police lined up to use force and conduct operation to remove them as necessary. Hospitals in Islamabad were put on high alert and ambulances and the fire brigade on standby at the scene.  

The protesters predictably stayed their place and the Interior Minister at last addressed the situation while speaking to the media. He said that if they do not retreat peacefully at night, then Wednesday in broad daylight in front of all the media, at any cost, the forces will remove them with an utmost effort to avoid use of violent force unless provoked.

As the events have been unfolding the past few days, what remains evident is that individuals with dangerous ideologies were able to mobilize in the thousands, crossing police cordons, seemingly unaffected by the might of the armed forces, and nearly no one could do anything as they laid siege to the Red-Zone, previously considered the most highly secured area in the capital.

Moreover, what is truly stupefying, is the fact that the government was aware of the likelihood of this occurrence on the Chehlum, as the religious groups had been making public statements stating so leading up to the day.

In a country that knows well how its people can mobilize in the thousands as they did in the PTI and PAT ‘dharnas,’ the government failed to re-jog their memory to revisit lessons from the recent past nor come to the obvious realization that instability inevitably ensues. They did not suspend mobile networks on the day of nor did they take adequate security measures or organize the police and army to secure the capital.

Pakistani leadership pretty much watched and waited, as the radical religious leaders and their followers marched in and comfortably took up their space.

Meanwhile, the tragic suicide blast took place in Gulshan-I-Iqbal park in Lahore killing and injuring countless innocents, and the government and all high-level officials focused their attention on giving the same old condemnations and condolences.

A day later, as is the course of most action in this country, the Prime Minister addressed the nation on the tragic attack. As usual, Nawaz Sharif read the same script of condemnations and condolences he could have easily released in a press statement as he typically does.

Giving the same speech the nation has pretty much memorized, his words were empty; lacking empathy or any course of action.

Meanwhile, the situation in the Red-Zone continued to become increasingly violent, in consequence of the poor management and response from the government.  

It is the fourth day and the forces are still on high alert, geared up to remove the protesters by force. In contrast, the protesters, in a distortion of Islam with their religious ‘zeal and fervor,’ remain motivated to stay until their ridiculous demands are entertained.

Whether or not a violent showdown will ensue is still a matter of question, as the nation waits to see the end of it.

Regardless of how it ends or if it ends, it seems we never learn. We never own up to the realities we face. Instead, we watch...in denial.

Pakistan needs to wake up and realize that it is our very own delusional lot, who are tearing at the seams of the social fabric of this nation, and wiping out the symbolic elements embroidered in the national flag: progress, light and minorities.