A leading Pakistani daily on Tuesday condemned the State’s “capitulation” to Islamists whose street protests forced a cornered Law Minister Zahid Hamid to resign.

“It is a surrender so abject that the mind is numb and the heart sinks,” the Dawn said in an editorial.

“The deal negotiated between the State, both civilian and military facets of it, and the Faizabad protesters is a devastating blow to the legitimacy and moral standing of the government and all state institutions.

“In one brief page and six gut-wrenching points, the state of Pakistan has surrendered its authority to a mob that threatened to engulf the country in flames.

“The federal Law Minister has been sacked – in return for a promise by the protesters to not issue a fatwa against him,” the editorial said.

“Whether a decision made out of desperation or fear, the upshot is that the State has accepted that mobs and zealots have a right to issue religious edicts that can endanger lives and upend public order.”

The Dawn said “something profound changed in the country” on Monday “and the reverberations will be felt for a long time”.

The Dawn blamed the “devastating incompetence and craven leadership by three sets of actors” — the government, the opposition and the Army — for the “capitulation” to Tehreek-i-Labaik Ya Rasool Allah, which was protesting against accusations of blasphemy over a proposed change in parliamentary laws.

“The government has been humiliated and the military leadership has further improved its standing with sections of the public for helping end the protests – but at what cost to the country and its people?

“Zealots had already demonstrated the power of mob violence and the strength of the politics of intolerance and hate. Now, a blueprint has been created for holding State and society hostage”