By: Cyril Almeida
THE green flag of Islam was vigorously waved Friday, the government wants us to believe. But to anyone who knows anything about this place, it was really a white flag of surrender in the PPP’s hands.
That the PPP has pandered to the religious right in the hope that giving them space will make them leave everyone else alone is true from the time of ZAB. The problem is, 35 years on, the camel’s nose and much of the rest of him is already inside the tent.
Cowardice and a myopic survival instinct dictated the PPP’s decision to embrace the mobs. The thinking was fairly rudimentary, as it often is here: get on the right side of the outrage; co-opt the raging few by giving their protests an official imprimatur; after Friday, treat the matter as adequately protested; and with the government’s flanks protected thus, push back if the protesters refuse to get off the streets.
As far as the government is concerned, the Friday ruse worked.
The protests weren’t enormous, they weren’t as violent as things can get in Pakistan and the government is now insulated from accusations that it is soft on the godless US. In a situation loaded with downside risks, the government thinks it has prevented the grenade in its lap from going off.
By any other measure, it was a very stupid thing to do.