With both sides unwilling to back down from their maximalist positions, the turmoil around Imran Khan’s potential arrest continues. The PTI Chairman’s Sunday address indicates that the party has only been emboldened with its standoff against the police, and a rally has been announced for Wednesday at Minar-e-Pakistan in Lahore. Judging by the way the police and PTI workers have faced each other on the streets in the past few days, more clashes are expected.
While offers of talks and negotiations have been mentioned, it is clear that discussions will not take place until both sides are convinced of their own victory. For Imran Khan, this means an end to the cases against him and the follow-through on dates for elections. For the government, charging Imran Khan for something and now, at least some of his workers for the violence, is an acceptable end result.
The problem, however, is that at this point, neither side is likely to get what they want. While both continue their posturing, the violence between law enforcement officials and PTI workers indicates a complete breakdown of the law. This has long-term consequences. We have seen protests from powerful forces such as PTI and TLP wreak havoc on public and private property with little consequences other than the clashes with law enforcement.
If the situation continues as is, we can expect more violence on Wednesday and further breakdown of order. All sides must try and remember that the positions of power they are striving to regain and retain are only as strong as the state. Imran Khan should remember this as he creates this narrative of all the institutions of the country out to get him and his supporters. Conversely, while the government looks for one excuse after another to delay the inevitable and postpone the elections, it must remember that opponents could use the same tactics in the future. We need an end to this foolishness now.