The hostage-taking by women students from Jamia Hafsa in Islamabad of the residents of a house that they allege is a brothel is not just another act of vigilantism and a breakdown of governance; it is also a manifestation of a nation divided against itself. Coming at a time when the legitimacy of the government is at its lowest after the recent fiasco of the Chief Justice’s removal, the powers in Islamabad seem to have little ability and even less stomach to address the criminality of this act given their own . What we are seeing now are the signs of a society without direction, a state without control, a government without legitimacy.
The result seems to be laathi raaj; quite literally. If one believes that the violent and coerced imposition of any one view - conservative or liberal; secular or religious - is wrong, then one has to reject all laathis. One has to be as opposed and as appalled at the laathis (sticks) being wielded by the burqa-clad women on Jamia Hafsa as one was a few weeks ago to the laathis wielded by the police at lawyers and media offices a few weeks ago.