The relationship between the civilian government and other institutions of the state have never in our country’s history been completely comfortable. Each incoming government seems to jostle for power and space, and at the same time peaceful coexistence with all the institutions is a crucial, if not prime, challenge for civilian governments. Unsurprisingly, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s (PML-N) term in government has also been similarly dotted with the uneasy compromises and flashpoints of varying seriousness that have become the hallmark of this tug-of-war.

But this precarious equilibrium seems to be on the verge of collapse. The omens are not good; and the rhetoric is indicative of a renewed antagonism, while the frantic pace of political machinations belies a sense of urgency and conflict. Coupled with a spate of energetic judicial activism, the conclusion is undeniable – the tussle is not a benign one; this tug-of-war will produce a winner and a loser.

It is difficult to pinpoint when exactly the conflict escalated into full blown crisis, but most commentators can agree on the first major causality of the conflict – the Balochistan Assembly. The unexpected toppling of the PML-N government in the province and bizarre and makeshift new assembly that followed – with a Chief Minister belonging to the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) but owing a stronger allegiance to the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) – set the tone for the rest of the year.

The effect of that toppling is being felt in the Senate elections right now, as unlikely bedfellows and bitter rivals come together in an attempt to deprive the PML-N of the Senate Chairmanship – a position that the party was mathematically supposed to receive.

What is more worrying than these closed-door meetings is the fact the participants are not worried about couching their opinions in diplomacy anymore. As indicated by important quarters now being known to be firmly critical of the PML-N leadership, and its actions; from the more recent ones – such as the appointment of the new US ambassador – to the ones made in the past – such as the appointment of Ishaq Dar as Finance Minister.

While many would contend that weighing in on appointments that affect the nation’s foreign policy is an acceptable and expected criticism to face, the extent of challenges faced by the civilian government does not end there.

Recent information about the support for “accountability” and doubts about the logic of the 18th amendment – are a much more fundamental challenge to the government.

Tensions in Pakistani politics are not worrying anymore – they are positively dangerous. One does not envy the PMLN government.