WEB DESK: As pro-Qadri protesters melted into the night at the end of their four-day ‘dharna’ making victory signs, the interior minister insisted that nothing had been conceded except giving them the safe exit out of the D-Chowk.
Seemingly, both sides have claimed success, unmindful of the fact that the net victims of this much ado about nothing were not they but the residents of Islamabad. For four days the capital city was paralysed as its principal business venue, Blue Area, was almost shut down and a large majority was left incommunicado as mobile-phone services remained suspended.
The question whether it was a farce that ended the way it was expected, or a genuine protest on the part of Qadri lovers, will have no easy answer, not only because of the theatrics on the part of the government, but also for the hollowness of the protestors who were on the ground for what they boisterously called a do-or-die mission. Of the 10 demands made by the protestors only a couple of those have been conceded which hardly usher in an era that the protestors’ leadership had promised.
That there would be no changes to the blasphemy laws the government had no problem with it because this was not being contemplated. That the Fourth Schedule of the Anti-Terrorism Act be reviewed was a demand or an objective that was already under government’s considerations. But where the government put its foot down was its refusal to concede the demand that the assassin of Salmaan Taseer, Mumtaz Qadri, be declared a martyr, that Aasia Bibi be executed and those involved in vandalising public property be spared. In fact, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar left no one in doubt that there was no ‘agreement’ whatsoever with the protestors’ leadership, maintaining that but for the intervention of two respectable gentlemen – Karachi businessman Haji Rafiq Pardesi and JUP chief Maulana Owais Noorani – the protestors would have been evicted by brute force. The question however remains why it took the government four days to retrieve the Red Zone that houses the symbolic representation of the state and Diplomatic Enclave from the possession of the pro-Qadri protestors even when, according to Chaudhry Nisar, they were only one-fifth of the law-enforcement contingent around them and had occupied the place without permission.
Is it then the case that the PML (N) government had lent an opportunity to the Barelvi leadership to establish its political clout as a counterweight to offset the pressure exerted by religious political parties of Deobandi school of thought. If that was the consideration, then it is the PML-N’s baby to nurture, and not the public who saw the entire disgusting saga of the pro-Qadri protest as mockery of law and failure of law-enforcement agencies. How come thousands of protestors, walking all the way on foot from Liaquat Bagh in Rawalpindi, barged into Islamabad’s Red Zone without interdiction by the police? It is our hope the report by the committee set up to look into this fiasco would be made public and those guilty of dereliction of duty duly penalised.
The people also would like to know what treatment is meted out to those who damaged the Metro-bus station, set six containers on fire and vandalised vehicles. The argument if the damage caused to the parliament building and PTV station by the PTI-PAT protesters of yesteryear could be overlooked why not spare the pro-Qadri group, makes no sense – two wrongs don’t make one right. Yes, the people who arrive at the Red Zone ‘hold the government by the neck’, but that is not good enough reason to declare the D-Chowk a no-go area. Let the protestors, of all hues and pursuits, reach up to this place to vent their feelings in front of their elected representatives. And as they do it the law-enforcement agencies should see to it that they don’t become violent, and if they do, remove them from there by force. That was not done in the case of pro-Qadri protestors.
Source: Business Recorder