LAHORE - PTI Chairman Imran Khan’s insistence that the party would go ahead with its Nov 2 Islamabad lockdown plan despite Islamabad High Court’s order against the move poses a serious challenge to the PML-N government. It will have to handle the situation very carefully or it may get out of control leading to unpredictable consequences.

But the initial signs are not very encouraging. For example, Thursday’s police baton charge of PTI women aggravated the situation as a result of which protests, though not very strong, were held in various cities on Friday. Traffic was blocked and tyres burnt at some places because of which the PTI’s campaign became the focus of people’s attention. Needless to say that restrictions, arrests and detentions help the opposition parties achieve their targets, and unfortunately the government is doing precisely what suits the PTI’s interests.

The use of strong-arm methods against the PTI activists even after a meeting on Thursday night between the PML-N leaders and the army chief is difficult to interpret. It may mean that either the army is keeping itself away from the political developments, or the government doesn’t care much about the army’s likely reaction to such an approach since the army chief is about to retire after a month.

Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah Khan said in an interview to WAQTNEWS on Friday that Nov 2 was a bluff and the PTI actually planned to “invade” Islamabad on Friday night. He also said that the Punjab government had written a letter to the PTI-led KP government urging it to stop their supporters from reaching the federal capital.

Surprisingly, leaders of both the PML-N and the PTI are pretty confident. The PML-N leaders believe that the bubble of the PTI would burst during the next few days and the party of Imran Khan would become history. The PTI leaders, on the other hand, claim that the PML-N rule is about to be over and the control of the country would soon go to what they say honest people.

The confidence of the rulers is always based on their ability to deal with the rivals, plus the information provided by the intelligence agencies. But at times, the rulers also make serious miscalculations.

Just to refresh the memory of our readers, The Nation had published a story in 1990 that then president Ghulam Ishaq Khan was going to dismiss the government of Benazir Bhutto. But Benazir Bhutto did not believe that such a step was going to be taken. The PPP government was removed and an interim setup installed, as reported by the paper.

The confidence of the PTI leaders shows that they are not alone in their campaign and enjoy support from some quarters the common mortal cannot imagine. Otherwise, paper parties like the PML-Q and the Awami Muslim League and the verbal support extended by Imran Khan’s political cousin Tahirul Qadri are not of much help.

Whatever the factual position, the PML-N Leaders must bear in mind that the PTI has burnt all its boats and can go to any extent to dislodge the prime minister or bring him to justice for keeping assets in offshore companies, an allegation denied by the ruling party. Its movement is like a gamble which, if defeated, would seal the fate of the party for good.

It would have been better if the PTI had left the Pananamagate for courts to decide. The country cannot afford agitations at a time when the economy is in a bad shape (notwithstanding the official tall claims to the contrary) and the government is taking loan after loan to run the state. (The foreign exchange reserves the government claims to have built up are nothing but foreign loans).

Observers say that Imran Khan has certain options the use of which can create difficulties for the PML-N government. For example, if the PTI’s KP chief minister dissolves the provincial legislature, which he is empowered to do under the Constitution, fresh elections will become inevitable. And holding of polls in the entire province in the prevailing situation will not be an easy task.

And if Imran Khan asks his MNAs and MPAs to vacate their seats, elections on their seats will also become mandatory. And since he is bent upon creating problems for the government, there is no possibility of his party legislators taking back their resignations this time.

Fresh elections are not a solution to the problem and they will not bring about any change to the situation.