Whether Shehbaz Gill’s statements were seditious or not, or who is at fault here, is another matter but one thing is for certain—his arrest has turned into an ugly mess of a clearly political nature. Mishandling and bad faith on all sides has escalated this legal question into a fiasco of political ultimatums. Party workers in the PTI have in the wake of the arrest tried their best to use and in some cases twist the fact to make it look like the arrest was illegal or a “kidnapping”, when the truth is that all legal procedures, including an FIR, was followed while arresting Gill.

However, the government has not acted reasonably either. Sedition is not an ordinary crime; allegations of sedition must be handled with extreme sensitivity and caution due to the ease with which the lines of freedom of speech can be crossed. Law enforcement has acted highly carelessly in this regard—for example, arresting Gill’s driver and the driver’s wife was unnecessary. The FIR against the driver and his family states that they had put up resistance and began creating a hue and cry; however, it may have been more advisable for law enforcement to exercise caution keeping in context the political nature of the case. Whatever their conduct, arresting family members, especially those that belong to lower or middle-income families and have no say in politics and the actions of those around them, looks unbecoming.

Gill’s employees, particularly the women arrested, should be released immediately and there needs to be a proper explanation as to why they were arrested in the first place. If the government means to make a valid case for sedition, it needs to be extremely careful in how it conducts arrests; authorities cannot take liberties like this.