The government’s threat of force in Islamabad came to naught, and only successful negotiations with Tehreek Labaik-Ya-Rasool led to their dispersal on Wednesday evening. The protesters were adamant in stressing that the state vow to not implement any changes in the blasphemy law, release arrested peaceful protesters and review cases of those arrested through the Fourth Schedule and consider retracting cases registered against the leaders inciting hate in the capital. In addition to this, the government also promised the clerics that the media would be barred from putting on any shows that were deemed vulgar. The yardstick of what will be considered vulgar is murky as always.

Herein lies the confusion. Chaudhry Nisar has refused to admit that any of the demands of the protesters were met, and yet the negotiations with the protesters were termed a success. Sources from within the ranks of The Sunni Tehrik claim that all of their demands were met, and if that is really the case, the government has a lot to answer for. The promises made if any, are of course, not binding in anyway and this might by why Nisar sounds as confident as he does. The hesitation to act on part of the government is obviously derived from unpleasant memories in both Model Town and D-chowk, with the former serving as one of the catalysts of the Azadi March. Great pains are being taken this time around to establish to the media that the security forces are carrying no weapons with live bullets. However, while this was taking place, teachers were baton-charged in Karachi for organising a peaceful protest, one that was not even close to being threatening in the way that this one was. It is clear that the government is really not capable of taking on clerics, even those that incite hate and ordered their supporters to commit acts of murder to defend a false interpretation of the religion. The government has consistently bent over backwards in this protest, while in others it has callously used the force the protesters are threatened with.

Imran Khan was very real threat to PML-N’s government, but this protest stood to affect the entire country detrimentally. The protesters knew that any success in this protest would have lasting consequences for their street credibility and overall influence in determining the ideology of the country. The government however, must understand that it cannot allow this to be happen for precisely these reasons. While Chaudhry Nisar has made some bold claims about the government not bowing down, the fact that the protesters have dispersed is indicative of a sadder outcome. If this is the case, then the government has learnt nothing in its three years in power.