Opp flays govt over Faizabad fiasco, civil society calls agreement with TLYR a surrender to extremism

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Pic19-042 ISLAMABAD: Nov 19 – Protestors of Tehreek Labaik Ya Rasool Allah chant slogans during their sit-in protest near Faizabad. ONLINE PHOTO by Waseem Khan
  • Civil society terms agreement with TLYR a surrender to extremist forces
  • PTI lambastes govt, seeks PM, interior minister’s resignation

 

ISLAMABAD: Opposition parties on Monday scathingly criticised the government over its mishandling of the Faizabad sit-in while civil society expressed dismay over the government caving in to the demands of Khadim Hussain Rizvi-led Tehreek Labbaik Ya Rasool Allah (TLYR).

 

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) welcomed the end of dharna at Faizabad Interchange and other parts of the country; Pakistan Peoples’ Party (PPP) cautiously reacted to the end of the sit-in; while civil society held that government caved into the demands of the extremist forces.

PPP’s Aitzaz Ahsan, the opposition leader in Senate, said that the sit-in exposed government’s inability to deal with [such] protests, adding that the issue could have been settled on the very first day, but the government delaying strategy had blown things out of proportion and caused inconvenience to millions of people.

Aitzaz said that democracy had been badly damaged by the authoritarian steps of the government, such as a ban on TV channels and social media. However, failed and rife with inefficiency, the government eventually resorted to calling in the army.

Over government’s inability to tackle the Faizabad sit-in, Opposition Leader in National Assembly and PPP lawmaker Syed Khursheed Shah said that the government’s [writ] does not exist anymore.

Shafqat Mehmood, the information secretary of the PTI, said that people all over the country suffered due to the negligence of the government.

The issue could have been resolved much earlier without violence, had the government released the Raja Zafar ul Haq report and taken resignation from the people responsible, he remarked.

In fact, the government completely mishandled the situation right from the beginning., he said, adding the resignation of Law Minister Zahid Hamid could have taken place earlier to defuse the crisis.

He blamed the government for the inconvenience to the public, loss of life and property [during operation], and added that the time had come for the government to resign as the country had suffered long enough at their hands.

Reiterating his party chief’s demand for snap elections, Mehmood said Prime Minister Shahid Khaqab Abbasi and his cabinet should resign. “This is the only democratic way out of the present crisis faced by the nation.”

PTI spokesperson Fawad Chaudhry held Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal responsible for the Faizabad sit-in and operation that sparked countrywide protests by religious groups.

Fawad said if not the Ahsan Iqbal then who was responsible for the martyrdom of the policeman. He lambasted the federal government, claiming that the political reputation of the rulers had diminished.

The PTI spokesperson further said the impression given to the world over the last three weeks was that there was no government in world’s seventh nuclear power. Blaming Ahsan Iqbal for the whole fiasco, he said the interior minister should resign and he should be “ashamed of himself” for letting police and FC officials get injured due to the [ill planned] operation.

 

Awami National Party (ANP) Central Vice President Bushra Gohar stated that Pakistan’s humiliating surrender to the TLYR mob was “a dark day for the country’s fragile democracy”. However, she demanded that the government’s surrender agreement should be made public.

Calling the whole fiasco an “administrative embarrassment” embarrassment for the government, defence analyst Hassan Askari Rizvi told Pakistan Today that this whole affair exposed the mismanagement of the government. The government could have asked Zahid Hamid to resign earlier as eventually–after losing men and property– they did cave in to sack the minister. “So what was the point of doing all this?”

Commenting on the ‘botched’ operation by the government to disperse the protesters, he said, “The use of force did not work, because it was not properly planned, nor did the government realise the nationwide repercussions of the operation.”

Quaid-e-Azam University professor and human rights activist Farzana Bari lamented the inefficiency of the government and the opposition parties to deal with the issue, saying the agreement with the zealots have set a precedent for the extremist forces to gain political power in future.

The extremist proved their power by forcing the government to give in, she said, adding that the secular, democratic forces were on the sidelines, watching helplessly as the country fell into an abyss.” Farzana, however, said there was nothing we could expect from the self-serving “democratic” parties.

Marvi Sirmed, a civil society activist, remarked that all state organs [the day agreement was signed] joined hands to defeat Pakistan today. Those who were supposed to impose state’s writ, and those who mediated [army], protected the criminals who were labelled “terrorists” by the high court, violated state and people; despite all that, they managed to go scot-free.