13-days later, at the Peshawar Morr neighbourhood in the capital city of Islamabad, the sit-in led by Maulana Fazl disbanded and spread all across the country after the prime minister refused to resign. After the very ambitious demand proved to be ‘too aspiring’ to be duly rewarded, Maulana is now using a new strategy. Maulana’s supporters are now blocking important highways and gateways all across Pakistan, severely hampering the movement of traffic. This move was not out of the blue, Maulana suggested this as a viable option for ‘his peaceful protest’ and it has been dubbed as the Plan B.
As of November 14, the Azadi March has cost 527.6 million to Pakistan in terms of security arrangements in the federal capital. 680 containers had to be rented for the security protocol. The rent sum was agreed at Rs.500,000 per container, costing Rs.71.40 million in total.
Maulana Fazl has been demanding the government to dissolve assemblies and the resignation of current elected prime minister which has so far proved to not be fruitful. Maulana has been also failed to achieve diversity in his protests, and mainly the crowd attracted to the sit-ins has been Maulan’s loyal followers. Further adding to Maulana’s visible disappointment and resentment, other opposition parties also seem to be side stepping away from Maulana’s protests.
Organizing rallies and marches remains in the limits of a peaceful, it helps the public convey their perspective on a certain law or policy to the government, however making the lives of common people miserable for one’s own gains is not.
The most recent Plan B however is very concerning at the moment. Maulana is not only rebelling against the government but also causing a great loss to Pakistan as a whole. The unnecessary suffering of the common people is unjustified. Blocking roads has never achieved a government’s resignation and it’s highly unlikely the current government will back down so easily. As mystifying as it is, Maulana insists that “we will remain peaceful and non-violent and will not adopt any aggressive posture, but spread the campaign throughout the country”.
Shutting down major cities, holding people’s passage hostage and peaceful protests are negating to each other. It is an inarticulate statement, unless one relates it with the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s security lock down and communications blackout in Indian Occupied Kashmir. Both essentially are holding the common people hostage. Securing a resignation from the PM would have been far more effective with lock down of the capital city, where Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government is solidly based. Blocking important passages, forcefully shutting down cities and halting business operations by the JUI(F) foot soldiers is light years far away from being a peaceful protest. The people affected by these have reported heavy losses as a result of these ‘peaceful protests’.
Regardless, Maulana Fazl is also among the few shrewd politicians in the history of the country. His prudence and quick decision making skills have positioned him in the very center of Pakistan’s politics, even overtaking major opposition parties. With all the further foreseeable developments hinting at no demands being met, Fazl is not going anywhere. The threat to national security looms above the government’s head, as Maulana grows more resentful by the hour.
What will happen, will a religious political party drag religion’s name in violent activities for their own agenda? Or will the end justify the means, only time will tell.
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17 November, 2019