IGNORING all advice, the government has resorted to highly questionable tactics to block the lawyers' march supported by the opposition parties. Mian Nawaz Sharif and Mian Shahbaz Sharif have been accused of committing treason for asking the administration not to carry out any illegal orders of the government and told an FIR will be lodged against them. Section 144, a relic of the colonial era, has been imposed all over Punjab, the storm centre of the lawyers' movement. Private residences are being raided to nab opposition activists and lawyers, over 200 having reportedly been arrested on one day. Incidents of police high-handedness reminiscent of the post-1977 era are being reported. A number of leaders have been put under house arrest, including Sindh SNF chairman Mumtaz Bhutto. In Punjab, there are reports of relatives of a number of leaders who evaded arrest, having been taken into custody or harassed. In case incidents of the sort continue to take place, enough damage would have been done to the government's democratic credentials before the start of the long march. One wonders why it was necessary to launch a police operation at this scale when no law had been broken by the lawyers or the opposition leaders. Public meetings and rallies have of course been held in Punjab, but there has been no evidence of violation of any law. In fact, over the last few months, VVIP movements have created more traffic jams and caused greater inconvenience to the common man than the protest marches. Whatever strong reaction the unnecessary arrests might evoke, is therefore liable to be blamed on the high-handed methods resorted to by the government. The lack of flexibility shown by President Zardari on the issue of the restoration of judiciary has vitiated the political atmosphere and weakened the PPP while it poses dangers to the life of the government and the system. While so far only the opposition and protesting lawyers had accused President Zardari of breaking promises, Mr Altaf Hussain too has warned him now that failure to abide by accords would harm him. Prime Minister Gilani too is being accused of doublespeak by opposing the Governor's rule while keeping his fingers crossed as bargaining continues to win over the PML(Q) leadership which has increased its demands. Although the party is reported to have withdrawn the nomination of Ch Shujaat for the Senate Chairman, it is seeking a major share in the Punjab government. Fishing in troubled waters, what former President Musharraf told the media on Tuesday, underlines the dangers to the system being posed by the policy of brinkmanship. "If internal threats become too acute," he observed, "then it is the responsibility of the Army to do something for the solidarity of the country." Many think there is need for the government to reverse the measures and go back to the negotiating table.