It was very hectic past few days in Pakistan in the lives of many of its citizens. The most anxious time was for Aasia Bibi and her family. Finally, the Supreme Court acquitted her from the charges under PPC 295 C and ordered her release. Thank God. Since then her whereabouts remain a mystery. I appreciate this ambiguity and hope she leaves Pakistan without any difficulties. It is very sad that Pakistan, otherwise her homeland where she has spent all her life, grown, married, had children and even grandchildren, is not safe for her despite being cleared on all charges levelled against herby the highest court in the land. I hope this outlook hits us hard on our collective conscience as citizens of Pakistan and as the aspirants of a brighter and progressive future. Is such progress even possible without resolving the sense of right and wrong in our political and religious discourse? I don’t think so. People pin their hopes and expectations on the PTI government for a better future. But hope is not enough motivator without timely action by the government. The Tehrik-e-Labbaik agitation started after the 31st October verdict by the Supreme Court disrupted the normal life in all major cities of Pakistan. The leading clerics of this movement may have the right to political protest and even holding irrational views but they did not have the right to violence, threats of killing judges, name calling Ahmadis and labelling every undesirable person as Ahmadi. We can acknowledge that in response to the hostile demonstrations there were few elements of government making the rightful noises, including our Prime Minister Imran Khan and the outspoken Federal Minister of Information, Mr Fawad Chaudhary. However, in the end government inaction overwhelmed all those upright sound bites. The leading clerics of this movement may have the right to political protest and even holding irrational views but they did not have the right to violence, threats of killing judges, name calling Ahmadis and labelling every undesirable person as Ahmadi The Federal Minister for Human Rights, Mrs Shireen Mazari, invoked parallels with the German Nazi government of 1930s and highlighted the appeasement policy of British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain courting with Hitler. We know this did not end well. Hitler seized on the perceived British weakness and continued to pursue his expansionist ambitions ultimately resulting in World War II. I agree with the parallels drawn between Pakistani clerics and Hitler. Yet, I am surprised that as a senior PTI leader Mrs Mazari failed to raise these sentiments when her party was pleasing these elements before the general elections. I would further remind respected Minister and other government leaders that this appeasement is not unique in Pakistan’s history. A Judicial Commission deliberated in detail on similar events in 1954 and provided insight into the causes and advised on the solutions. More interestingly the proposed solutions were not some elusive or complex ideas which could not be understood by the government. It was just a simple law and order based mindset which could have enforced the government writ. Unfortunately, we have been through this many time and have always fallen victim to government’s political considerations in appeasing the religious extremists. The first major event in our history was the 1953 riots against Ahmadis in Punjab. In the beginning of March 1953, widespread disturbances broke out in the province which in some places continued till the middle of April 1953. These took so alarming a turn and assumed such a menacing form that in several places the military had to be called in, and in Lahore Martial Law had to be proclaimed, which remained in force till the middle of May 1953. Before the declaration of Martial Law, the police had to resort to firing in several places and at least two persons were killed on the night of 4th March and 10 on 5th March, 66 persons were injured in the firing on those two days. The number of casualties admitted by the military in quelling the disturbances in Lahore was 11 killed and 49 wounded . The events of 1953 pale in comparison to the violent and vicious religious politics of modern day Pakistan. The honourable Justice Munir and Justice Kayani drew remarkably uncomplicated and straightforward conclusions. The situation then and now has strikingly comparable themes from the viewpoints of both the agitators of violence and the government functionaries who were dealing with it. The respectable Justices wrote, “The inference can only be one-the Central Government were not sure of their ground or they did not wish to be associated with a step that might turn out to be unpopular.”Furthermore, they concluded, “This policy of indecision, hesitancy and vacillation which the Central Government pursued for several months had its repercussions on the situation in the Province (Punjab which was the centre of the violence).” The PTI government has also shown utter lethargy in promptly managing the situation in the same manner as their predecessors did not act under the PML-N leadership last November. The reasons of this “indecision, hesitancy and vacillation” by the successive governments remain the same since 1953i.e.,the strong and interconnected political association of government leaders with such religious parties and clerics who lead or support hate filled campaigns against weaker and marginal communities of Pakistan. Political appeasement of violent groups has always been our historical impediment to handle such lawless disruptions and pursue a progressive direction for the country. Ahmadis have been at the receiving end of this violence for nearly 70 years. Ahmadis are barred under PPC298 B and C to appropriately respond to any accusations of conspiracy in media, therefore, the lies get carried unchecked. Those lies impact the day to day lives of Ahmadis. As an Ahmadi, I can fully empathise with other marginal communities of Pakistan who are now facing the wrath of extremists under the garb of religious righteousness. The suffocation is growing and choking any decency left in the remaining society. There are many Ahmadis in jail on similar charges as was Aasia Bibi. Shakoor Bhai, in his eighties, is currently spending jail time for selling books to his own Ahmadi community members in Rabwah. I hope that Supreme Court will one fine morning pull out details of all such cases involving Ahmadis charged under PPC 298 B, C and 295 C and act with fairness by relieving the suffering of these prisoners of conscience. The honourable Justice Munir and Justice Kayani in 1954pointed out to government its obligations in enforcing and guarding the law and order without political considerations. They wrote, “It seems to be a joke that until then the Punjab Government in the Ministry of Law and Order, inclusive of its civil and police secretariat, did not know that the ordinary law had to be respected.” Their last lines of the report provided a critique and an answer which is fully applicable in contemporary atmosphere too. The para has a hint of sarcasm on the misplaced religious notion where politicians leave everything in God’s hands. I quote, “And it is our deep conviction that if the Ahrar (the main agitators of violence and rioting against Ahmadis in 1953) had been treated as a pure question of law and order, without any political considerations, one District Magistrate and one Superintendent of Police could have dealt with them. Consequently, we are prompted by something that they call a human conscience to enquire whether, in our present state of political development, the administrative problem of law and order cannot be divorced from a democratic bed fellow called a Ministerial Government, which is so remorselessly haunted by political nightmares. But if democracy means the subordination of law and order to political ends-then Allah knoweth best and we end the report.” The writer has Master’s degree in Project Management from the University of New South Wales, Sydney. He can be reached at @Imranahsanmirza Published in Daily Times, November 7th 2018.