Home Views & Opinions Handling TLP – cost of appeasement

Handling TLP – cost of appeasement

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Pakistan went through most difficult situation for about 10 days when everything was brought to halt and government remained confused. Never in the history of Pakistan has faced such terrible dilemma at the hands of banned party TLP who staged sit in and started its march towards Islamabad to get their demands fullfilled.Thank God that the government has managed to reach an agreement as a result TLP protestors have vacated the GT Road but camping in nearby gardens waiting to ensure implementation of secret accord, and life is gradually returning to normal. During these 10 days government has suffered loss of billion of rupees and trader’s damage is beyond estimation, beside sufferings of common man, daily wagers and patients were the major affected. Although people have taken sigh of relief but modus operandi of government in inking agreement with TLP has been kept secret probably as per agreement has left many questions that have to be answered. What is secret about the agreement is that there is no secret. Unfortunately our handling of TLP has been defective ab initio. Recollect for a moment Faizabad Dharna in 2017 the entire nation witnessed how envelopes carrying cash to protestors were dished out by law enforcement agencies. A wrong precedence was set in for future for which Pakistan has paid very heavy price. There is a big difference in fighting terrorists in which you shoot to kill but in such extremists protests there is no question of firing as protestors are own people and not the enemy, this very fact goes to the advantage of the protestors. It is good that government decided not to use the force and enter in to negotiations. The formation of negotiating team also raises many questions as the custodian of law was not included in the team is not a rocket science naturally this must be precondition to start negotiations
Now there are two ways looking at this tragedy at national level. The government has been able to diffuse the situation that resulted TLP to call of their dharma so that normal activities could be restored. They have not yet vacated Wazirabad and waiting for the release of their leader Saad Rizvi. No government can allow forced lock down indefinitely therefore it was the best option to go for negotiations instead using force.Secondly a very bad precedence has been set where state became helpless and they succumbed to pressure and entered into an agreement that has been kept secret to be disclosed at an appropriate time. One of the clause was to release all the detained protestors from different jails that has been implemented.
First and foremost duty of any government is to protect life and property of each and every citizen irrespective of cast and creed. Question arises have we fulfilled this obligation, the answer is emphatic No. We may soon witness action replay by PDM, and from other parties, they also have a sizeable supporters to stage sit in anywhere in Pakistan and paralyse the state. The courts have ruled that protest is the constitutional right of the parties and it cannot be stopped. Our past history is full of such incidents where state had no choice except to surrender in the larger interest of the state. Deployment of Rangers and later on involving army if required could have been dangerous. It becomes difficult for any force to use fire arms against own people. Government faced most difficult situation therefore there was no other option except to show flexibility and that paved way for this agreement. While analysing this tragedy we should know that most developed country of the world and super power frequently undergoes protests between black and white, how the crowd behave and start looting stores and burning private property very common, but state responds and people are arrested and punished. Thank God our crowd except burning police and some private vehicles remained in limits. But what about that policeman who lost their lives while defending the state. Monetary compensation cannot substitute human lives; therefore a proper SOP has to be put in place so that the families of the martyred policeman don’t suffer. The families must be compensated adequately within 20 days.It is true that government has been able to ink an agreement but Internationally Pakistan image has been damaged beyond repair. Pakistan fought for 20 years against terrorists to get rid from them paid very heavy price in men and material. But in this case government was pitched against proscribed party that will have far reaching consequences in coming years. Some clauses released to the press include TLP being given status of a political party is alright but knowing that they hold extremist views can again pose danger, therefore a proper strategy has to be chalked out to ensure no more such disorder takes place and Pakistan faces no more humiliation. It is time to sit and frame strict laws where writ of government is not challenged.
As reported it is good that COAS was also involved in the negotiations because ultimately it would have been the army to be called in aid of civil power under Article 245 of the constitution to restore law and order and open GT Road. We must appreciate the positive role of opposition for not exploiting the situation they deserve salute by the nation. PM should also appreciate this gesture by opposition otherwise things could have gone out of control. The deal has put a seal in legitimising a proscribed party and it is feared we may find some new demands certainly tantamount to threatening our national security narrative. How we tackle it is a million dollar question.