Like the seasonal monsoon rains that unleash a deluge in northern Punjab, causing the occasional flooding, and then disappearing for the rest of the year – the seasonal cleric Tahir-ul-Qadri has also made landfall. This time around it would seem that the Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) chief has arrived a little late to the party – Nawaz Sharif has already been dismissed, rendering the main trust behind the parties activities over the last few years moot. Seeking justice for the Model Town incident has been the party’s long term goal, but that issue has been permanently put on the nation’s backburner, mainly because the PAT chief has left for Canada for long periods of time, undercutting any built up pressure himself.

However at the gathering of various political party leaders at Nasir Bagh in Lahore, including the Awami Muslim League's Sheikh Rashid, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf's (PTI) Chaudhry Sarwar and Shah Mahmood Qureshi, it became evident that Tahir-ul-Qadri – or more accurately, the rank and file of the PAT – still has a part to play in Pakistani politics.

After delivering rousing speeches decrying the cruelty of the Model Town deaths and the immorality of the Panamagate scandal, the PAT chief asked his followers if they were prepared to stay and "welcome" Nawaz Sharif to Lahore in a "peaceful manner" – to which his followers unsurprisingly agreed. Others leaders were more direct in what they wanted from the gathered PAT workers; with Sheikh Rashid asking the workers to “stand before Nawaz Sharif” and Shah Mehmood Qureshi asking, "Your murderers are coming to Lahore tomorrow. The question is: will you sit still, or will you make difficult decisions?"

It is evident that a force of counter protestors is being prepared to put a damper on Nawaz Sharif’s supposedly triumphant arrival in Lahore, it remains to be seen if these protests will “not harm a leaf or plant” as Tahir-ul-Qadri has alleged, or if they will devolve to the pitched battles we have seen between the law enforcement and PAT workers in the past.

Precedent would suggest the latter. Two large bodies of charged and unruly party members approaching each other is a recipe for disaster. If the PAT workers end up blocking the route Nawaz Sharif is going to take, clashes will be inevitable and this time the blame for any injury or deathwould rest solely on the shoulders of the opposition.

They can talk all they want about being peaceful, but delivering hours of inciting speeches to workers who have a history of participating in organised clashes and then sending them to “welcome” a large convoy of politically charged workers from the opposing party is the definition of pre-planned violence. It is understandable that the opposition wants a spectacle, but under no circumstances should it be allowed to do so by risking the lives of party workers.

PAT has a right to protest, but that protest needs to be held on a separate venue and on a separate date.