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  • Dec, 2017
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  • Editorial

Tolerance breeds tolerance while intolerance breeds violence. So is the case of Faizabad Sit-in (Dharna) in Islamabad where intolerance of government towards the dharnawalas led to the unprecedented violence. Frankly speaking, the government had two options to proceed: use of force or the negotiations. The wisdom required choosing the best option but the government opted for the worst. Happened what happens in such cases. The police came down on the protestors but faced extraordinary resistance. The use of brute force prompted the vigilante mobs to take law in their hands. The police could not bear the brunt of angry dharnawalas and fled from the scene. Resultantly, disturbing and chaotic events started taking place everywhere in the country. Certain parts of the country looked like that of the harried scenes of a Hollywood smash hit. It perplexed the PML-N government which instead of mending its ways, committed serious errors one after another. The writ of the government was challenged and the country seemed frying in a pan.

To curtain its incompetence, the government enforced media blackout covering all the forms of print as well as electronic media. Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra), through its notification asked the channels to abide by Clause 8 (8) of the Electronic Media (Programmes and Advertisement) Code of Conduct 2015, to show "utmost sensitivity" and refrain from coverage of the operation. In other words, the channels were not allowed to conduct live coverage of the operation to end the Faizabad sit-in and the transmission of the most private news channels held back in different parts of the country. Furthermore, they blocked the Facebook, YouTube, DailyMotion, Twitter and Instagram without any notice. It raised a mist of awe and fear in the country. Everything was in the air with the exception of truth. Violence and lawlessness had been broken out like jungle-fire. The government sought help from the security quarters but could get ‘advice’ which it followed earnestly after weeks-long protest and loss of precious human lives. The civil-military tether helped restore normalcy in the chaotic capital. Pakistan Army bridged the communication gap between the protestors and the government and paved the way for an agreement.  After accepting all the demands of the protestors, an agreement was inked by the parties. The terms of the agreement included resignation of Federal Minister for Law and blanket immunity for all those arrested during the crackdown on the agitating protesters. The protest was the joint venture of the Tehreek Labbaik Ya Rasool Allah (TLY), the Tehreek-i-Khatm-i-Nabuwwat, and the Sunni Tehreek Pakistan (ST). Their members occupied the connecting road between the twin cities Rawalpindi and Islamabad --also called Faizabad Interchange. Their sit-in froze the public life there. As a matter of fact, it was the firm belief of the agitators that the text of Khatm-i-Nabuwwat oath, during the passage of Elections Act 2017, was intentionally modified as part of a larger conspiracy. On the other hand, the government called it a 'clerical error' and rectified through an Act of Parliament accordingly. But it was too little and too late by the government from the agitators point of view who also demanded the resignation of Federal Law Minister. The Islamabad High Court, the Supreme Court and the heads of various religious parties called the protest unlawful AND asked them to change their sit-in venue. The IHC finally ordered the district administration to drive out the protesters of the Faizabad Interchange using "any means necessary".

The consequences of this abortive operation are far-reaching and the cost seems to be borne by the generations after generations in different forms. Apparently the loss is restricted to damages to public property, deaths of six people, injuries to hundreds and the writ of state as well. Nobody expected such novice way of dealing with the sensitive matter by the PML-N government which has unmatched governmental experience. First they brought a change in law in parliament; but they did not take long time in  melting down in the heat of the pressure. In this way, they gave a severe blow to their vote bank. In fact, they had failed to guesstimate the reaction on the said amendment. In retrospect, the PML-N has been enjoying the support of religious voters which it has lost for good.  Due to the previous faus pas, the government has lost the confidence of state institutions, the masses, allied parties in parliament and the media. There is no excuse or justification of the same. Keeping in view the present situation, we don’t need Socrates’ genius to ascertain that their days are numbered in one way or another. As said earlier, the writ of state has been challenged and compromised. Now the question arises: Who w...

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