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KARACHI: Members of civil society and human rights activists on Wednesday questioned the role of the state and its reaction over last week’s violent protest sit-ins across the country against acquittal of Aasia Bibi in a blasphemy case by the Supreme Court, criticising the government for “giving in” to radical forces.

Speaking at a press conference after a demonstration outside the Karachi Press Club, peace campaigners, human rights activists and civil society members, led by Jibran Nasir, showed their support to the Supreme Court on Aasia Bibi case and appreciated the decision to take suo motu notice of damages caused by three days of protests organised by Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) across the country.

“We welcome the Supreme Court’s decision to take suo motu notice of the damages caused by the protests,” said Mr Nasir. “But we want to know the government’s stand on this episode. On one side there was a group of people and on the other there were the government, judiciary, political parties, even from the opposition, state institutions and civil society. But the government opted to bring all those responsible for that violence to dialogue. This is not only strange but also not acceptable.”

He also criticised the government and the quarters concerned for their dual standards of handling people from different ideologies. One group, he said, which staged a protest for its rights was called traitor and the other which openly called for mutiny was offered talks and agreement.

“We are not supporting any individuals here but we stand for the sanctity of the office of the prime minister, the chief justice and the army chief. The state should realise that it was its job to ensure security of every segment of society and it’s time to differentiate between political forces and banned outfits,” added Mr Nasir.

Published in Dawn, November 8th, 2018