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Were the protestors in Faizabad peaceful?

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News Analysis |

The Islamabad Police told the Supreme Court that fatigue, among other things, was a factor that led to its failure in last week’s operation against protestors in Faizabad. The police authorities said that its personnel had exhausted themselves due to a prolonged deployment of 17 days before launching the operation.

“Mixed deployment of different forces, including the police, Frontier Constabulary (FC) and Pakistan Rangers, also had negative effects on productivity,” said a nine-page report tendered to the Supreme Court on behalf of Inspector General of Islamabad Police Khalid Khattak.

The report contended that the protestors whipped up the religious sentiments of the men deployed in Faizabad, something that hindered the effective use of the available force.

Analysts are pointing out the dithering on part of the government that resulted in the eventual inducting of the Army.

The police-led operation in Faizabad failed to evict protestors from Faizabad. The backlash of the fiery protestors resulted in the loss of life and property, forcing the government to call in the Army under Article 245 of the constitution. Experts had taken serious exceptions to how the operation was conducted as it lacked planning, reconnaissance, and coordination.

Read more: Faizabad Dharna: Another Reminder that Pakistan Needs to Beef up State…

Reporters who covered the events of 25th November said that the police didn’t anticipate how large numbers of protestors from adjoining areas will carry out a baton-charge. Also, the policemen were handicapped by the court’s order of not using firearms.

The police said that the operation was well planned but was marred due to stiff resistance from the protestors who mustered support from surrounding areas. The report further said that 5,508 officers/officials fully equipped with anti-riot equipment had been deployed at Faizabad interchange to disperse the protestors.

The report added that the police used tear gas and water cannons but the protestors mounted an assault with axes, stones, and batons. The post-agreement debate is revolving around how peaceful the protestors were and whether force should have been used against them or not.

The report contended that the protestors whipped up the religious sentiments of the men deployed in Faizabad, something that hindered the effective use of the available force.

The report has somewhat cleared the air in that regard as it alluded to how well prepared the crowd was. According to the police, the crowd was armed with stones, pistols, axes, rods, teargas shells and masks and was highly religiously motivated. Moreover, the zestful crowd cut the wires of CCTV cameras that effectively disallowed the authorities to monitor their activities.

Questions are being raised as to why such a violent mob was let off. Also, watchers are concerned as to why the state cracked an agreement with people who used violence as a mean to achieve their political aims.

Read more: Faizabad crackdown casues divisions in PML-N

One of the hallmarks of a state is to retain a monopoly on violence. If the police report is reflecting the actual events of the operation, then questions are to be raised on the competence of the authorities in dealing with the protestors.

The report further said that 5,508 officers/officials fully equipped with anti-riot equipment had been deployed at Faizabad interchange to disperse the protestors.

Analysts are pointing out the dithering on part of the government that resulted in the eventual inducting of the Army. Reports also suggest that the Punjab Government urged the protestors to march toward Islamabad. Regardless of who emerged as the victor in the event, the abrupt end to the Faizabad sit-in is presenting a negative image to the international community, especially at a time when Pakistan is telling the world that it is effectively countering extremism.


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