Former President Asif Ali Zardari’s arrest from his Islamabad residence on Monday, after the Islamabad High Court rejected his bail plea in the fake accounts and benami transactions case is likely to lead to ripples in the political scenario of the country. The Pakistan Peoples’ Party (PPP) under co-chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari will most likely be huddled up and in the process of deciding what to do as a reaction to the arrest of their leader. Mr Bhutto Zardari has already called for calm and warned party supporters to not break the law in their protests against the arrest of Mr Zardari, however, the party must do more to keep its workers in line and prevent any violence resulting from a clash between security officials and party stalwarts.

The party has yet to decide on a concrete course of action to secure the release of their leader, but organised street protests are the most likely route it will follow given that PPP politicians on the opposition benches have already called for the parliament speaker to issue Mr Zardari’s production orders and allow for him to address the National Assembly to apprise them of the arrest and the events surrounding it. In making these demands however, PPP leaders must also realise that the National Accountability Bureau’s (NAB) case against Mr Zardari, is one that first came to light in 2015 as a result of a Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) probe and hence, blaming ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf for politically motivated arrests is of absolutely no use. The arrest comes as a result of a court ruling, and should be treated as a legal issue, not a political one.

As far as the PPP’s next move is concerned, it must remember that any agitation on the streets must be completely peaceful and non-violent. The party and its leaders are well within their rights to protest; but letting the law take its course is imperative to preserve its supremacy over individuals. Demonstrating against a perceived injustice is significantly different from resisting arrest and taking the law into one’s own hands, and it is up to party leaders such as Billawal Bhutto Zardari to ensure that the party does not create new problems – both for itself and the general public – by pitting themselves against law-enforcement officials. Exercising restraint and patience is the need of the hour, and PPP leaders should chalk out a clear strategy or plan of action for what comes next before they issue a call to their supporters – acting without thinking now will only lead overzealous party workers taking the protest in their own hands.