Wednesday, March 22

Pakistan on Friday: Senior cleric murdered, protest called off after negotiation with the government


Pakistan was facing protests all over the country after the Supreme Court of Pakistan acquitted Asia Bibi in Blasphemy case. Asia Bibi, a Christian was charged with insulting the Prophet PBUH and was given death sentence in 2010. However she appealed for reviewing her case and after living in solitary confinement for 8 years, she was declared innocent by the Supreme Court on 31st October, 2018.

This decision caused many to go against the Supreme Court’s decision especially the religious groups. People were of view that once she was given a death sentence by the Court in the blasphemy case, how come her appeal in court turned the tables?

The Pakistan Tehreek e Labiak and its followers around the country started country-wide protest in major cities. This caused security unrest among the country and the schools were closed down. Offices were open but there were few employees who attended as many routes were closed.

Business across the country suffered closures and losses. The major routes of the cities were closed and the protestors used different modes of violence to show off their anger against the ruling. There were footages on media where it was seen that protestors were burning tires, motor cycles, rickshaws and photos of Chief Justice on roads.

Due to all this, there was shortage of petrol in Lahore, Karachi was blocked off completely and the twin cities’ (Rawalpindi, Islamabad) people were almost immobile. The mobile networks were closed as well.

Imran Khan had to pay his first official visit to China. This visit had great economic and diplomatic importance and could not be further delayed. He thereby went off to China leaving his nation in chaos. However prominent Ministers who were to accompany him stayed home to peacefully tackle the situation.

The negotiation between the government and protestors were there but there was no hope that they would be fruitful. On Friday, the country saw a complete close down. It seemed as the situation would get worse. Then the news of murder of a senior cleric broke.

Maulana Sami ul-Haq was killed at his own home in Rawalpindi. He was home alone when the attackers killed him using knives. He was discovered dead by his son.

The cleric who is also known as “Father of Taliban” held a respectable place in Pakistan. His death caused many to fear an unrest in country. His sudden murder would cause his followers to show their anger on roads. We have seen that in Pakistan when murder of an influential person takes place, riots occur around the country.

However, his son asked the followers to remain calm and there were no riots among the country. Side by side, the government agreed to accept the agenda of the protestors and there was a successful negotiation. The protestors seeked forgiveness from nation over the trouble and went away.

The government has agreed to re-appeal against the case, to look into possibilities of putting Asia bibi’s name in ECL (Exit Control List) and to free all the protestors who were arrested during the previous days.

But where are we heading to? Why the government is handicapped by a handful of people? Till when the poor will have to suffer loses? These are the questions that tend to strike in minds of many! People believe that negotiation with these groups and giving them what they ask for is not something tactful from the government. It just shows that the government can change its decision on protest of few people and few people can eventually paralyze the country.

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