Simmering quietly below the surface is a storm, and the stage seems to be set for yet another showdown. The Supreme Court has already decided its verdict in the Aasia Bibi case - its contents have yet to be revealed to the public. On the other side Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) has thrown down its own gauntlet; warning of paralysing the country within hours if Aasia Bibi is not given the death sentence. The case’s legal and political legacy is unquestionably important, and is being watched intently by all, even beyond Pakistan. The ramifications of a possible execution – the first ever in Pakistan for blasphemy – are dire to say the least.

Hence the government finds itself sitting on the perfect powder keg, which is inevitably going to explode, one way or another. The only thing the government can be thankful of is the fact that they have their hands firmly on the fuse – they will decide when and how this showdown is to take place.

While the verdict has been reserved one can assume that the government has some indication which way the apex court has decided the case. If so, the government knows what it is facing, and one would expect that it will prepare accordingly.

If the Supreme Court acquits, the TLP is poised to strike at a moment’s notice. Instructions have been issued, the plans have been made; the agitation aims to lockdown the country without recourse to any central leadership. The TLP have implied violence, and considering their past actions it is to be expected. Despite several concessions – and perhaps because of them - the TLP has grown ever bolder and more belligerent. Here and now it has warned that “responsibility for the subsequent law and order situation would rest with the judges, the government and all institutions supposed to protect the Constitution”.

This would be the first time the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) government - and by extension the current judiciary - would have to face such a disruptive protest; it remains to be seen how the government plans on handling them. Previously it has chosen the path of appeasement, but if the court delivers the verdict, it might have no choice but to brace for impact.

If the court upholds the death sentence there will still be protests from parties and stakeholders from the other side of the aisle, but nothing as coordinated or destructive as the TLP can conjure up. The PTI would have averted a storm, but only momentarily. The coercive threat of the TLP would continue to hang above the heads of the government until it is dealt with.

The fuse is in PTI’s hand, it must decide how and where it will let it ignite.