A couple of days ago, the Lahore High Court (LHC) Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan chief Khadim Hussain Rizvi and Pir Afzal Qadri were granted bail in a case related to staging countrywide protests and making derogatory remarks against the judiciary, government and army.

While his case is still pending, Khadim Rizvi is allowed to live his life now, at least to the extent he can. Bail releases usually indicate that a person is not a flight-risk, meaning they will not run away from their trial. It would be interesting to think that Khadim Rizvi would flee the country, especially after a welcome like this one;

As you can see, one of Pakistan’s most controversial figures has a massive fan base, and here’s why that’s the problem.

Khadim Rizvi has risen through taking advantage of religious sentiments to send our major cities into gridlock. He is able to amass an army of soldiers to fight his battle, all in the name of religion. He has distorted religion to only be relevant to blasphemy. He stays silent of issues of social concern, corruption, pollution, debt and even terrorism, but brings up religion only in this one situation. Khadim Rizvi has built an army, ready to attack when he calls. And that is not power that should be abused. But he does.

Let me remind you what Khadim Rizvi had been arrested for. The former TLP leader had said that the three judges, who acquitted Aasia Bibi, were liable to be killed, that Prime Minister Imran Khan is a Zionist agent and that the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Gen Javed Qamar Bajwa’s orders were not to be accepted. This type of rhetoric carries a lot of weight in Pakistan, and Khadim Rizvi is full aware of this.

A grade 12 student gunned down the principal of his college on the pretext of ‘blasphemy’. It was said that the student got disgruntled after the principal had expressed his anger at the student over his absence from college for three days due to latter’s reported participation in Faizabad sit-in. Then there was a third-year student in Bahawalpur stabbed a professor to death over what he vaguely described as the academic’s “anti-Islam” remarks.

Do you see how in all cases there was no actual proof of anything un-Islamic being conducted? But that doesn’t matter, because when religious sentiments are hurt, there is no logic. And Khadim has used that to give him power. He uses this rhetoric fully aware of the damage it cause. It’s his weapon, it’s his shield.