This has been the story of the maiden tenure; when the opposition finds itself divided, the ruling party always finds a way to unite them. With the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman preparing for a second round of protests the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) needed to be very cautious on how to approach the impending challenge. Yet in typical PTI fashion the party has taken up a hammer when a scalpel was required. By indicating that Mr Rehman might be charged with treason under Article 6 of the Constitution for his intending to topple the government, the party has not only antagonized a group it should be seeking to mollify, but has also given them an ironclad reason to persist with their dissent.

The uproar in the Parliament is a clear indicator of how this threat has been received, and they are not unjustified in doing so. The Prime Minister must remember that when he was an opposition leader he too attempted to “topple” the government - in a much more forceful in disruptive way than the JUI-F had done. The images of a PTI commandeered truck ramming into the fence of the Parliament house are still fresh in everyone’s memory, the speeches on top of the container in D-Chowk encouraging the people to rebel and not pay their bills can be looked up on the internet with a click of a button. If the PTI claims that their extensive lockdown of the capital was a “democratic protest” than the JUI-F, which has done far less than the PTI, must also be afforded this right. The PTI glossing over its transgressions while in power is the definition of hypocrisy

More importantly the government must realize that dissent does not equal treason, criticism is not sedition not and a protest is not a rebellion. It will only entrench the political divide if the government continues to maintain this erroneous stance.