Agreement reached with TLP after negotiations was a sign of good politics done with little fanfare and defused their agitation within four days before it could pick up pace. Unlike last time, occasion to pitch demoralized LEAs against determined TLP squatters was averted. Damage to public and private property and life was minimized except mob attack on stranded vehicles on Sheikhupura-Lahore Motorway. So far so good. However, there remain larger and more significant questions of articulation of the writ of the state, effective governance and the nature of security net needed for the safety of people’s life and property. Before one proceeds further an incident out of the recent chaos is worth quoting. It is reported that a family stranded in a car was threatened by a menacing mob. The man in the car became desperate and started firing. The mob backed off and dispersed. This means next time around people should travel fully armed and the mobs too will carry weapons. A face off then can have serious consequences. This incident also indicates that there was a general absence of a Police security net in anticipation of the agitation. That Police and administration had not really worked out a plan to tackle possible disruptions of public life. This observation is supported by the large scale looting and arson seen on Lahore- Sheikhupura Highway and absence of a response by the Police/LEAs. It is well known that unfortunately our Police needs a lot of cleansing, training, equipping and leadership. That district administrations have by and large become placid and are drifting. It also remains to be seen if the Army was requested to intervene and if not why not? One is prepared to grant that first priority was to defuse the evolving volatile situation. That done, what about the fatwa to kill the Justices who acquitted Asia and the incitement to soldiers to revolt against the Army Chief? The man who publicly pronounced these declarations is the same who signed the agreement with the official delegates; Pir Afzal Qadri. Those who shared the stage with him were infamous Khadim Rizvi and another similar TLP leader, Jalali. The declaration was not only evil but an invitation to wage war against the state which cannot be overlooked by any stretch of measure. What about the looted property, burnt cars, buses and motor cycles? More than everything else, what about the dreadful loss of people’s faith in the capacity of the state to protect and provide safety against mob attacks and arson?? These are very serious questions which will not go away by emotive but empty declarations to uphold rule of law, not to bow before mobs and intent to use force etc etc. These are noble intentions but do not necessarily save a family in a stranded car from being either burnt alive or robbed by the mob. There remain larger and more significant questions of articulation of the writ of the state, effective governance and the nature of security net needed for the safety of people’s life and property There are questions also about the government’s capability to tackle such issues in their totality. It is easy to say that there are forces which are determined to see their government fail. Well the PTI should have known from day one that they will be opposed tooth and nail by those ousted by them and should have been prepared for the attacks. They seemed to be still savouring their electoral victory, it appears when the TLP storm hit them. Their illusion of overwhelming and outright public support and popular resistance to vandals such as TLP is erroneous and unrealistic. Popular resistance to oppression, to break out in the open requires a catalyst. In cases like TLP it requires the state to set an example. The first wave of popular support has ushered PTI into power. They have to show determination and firm resolve to deal with mobsters like Labaikis, to reassure people and draw out the next wave. Public office requires sustained performance from the holder. Time for rhetoric is over already, the state has to get into action earnestly. The decision to chase, smoke out and prosecute perpetrators of TLP inspired mob attacks, arson and looting with the help of videos, people and NADRA is a sound one and must be pursued with a sense of purpose and seriousness. Writ of the state and credibility of the government is at stake which must be speedily and visibly restored. Those who have been negligent during the chaos and the ones who show cold feet in Police, district administrations and intelligence agencies be ruthlessly chucked out. TLP be dealt a decisive and crushing blow regardless of what might be the negative consequences. Nothing is more precious than the country itself. It is now or never. This monster has tasted blood twice as also a brush by the political clout and will grow if not destroyed root and branch. The writer can be reached at [email protected] Published in Daily Times, November 7th 2018.