GOING against the current of public opinion is hardly the recipe that a government elected through the ballot can adopt and get away with, with a smile. Countrywide crackdown, ban on processions, detentions, barricades to stop the movement of protesters and disabling cellphones for inter-city communications, would not help. Rather, serious repercussions lie in wait for it, especially in these times of the widespread consciousness of democratic rights: the right to freedom to hold the views of one's choice and express them openly; the right to seek justice and for that to have an independent judiciary to enforce the rule of law; and so on. And when the media becomes sensitive to this awareness and the ruling leadership's subterfuges to suppress it, as in the case of Pakistan, there is not much that can be done to ward off public wrath. One should not be surprised if there were to be desertions from the Cabinet and civil administration. The crisis that brought down the Musharraf regime now poses a serious danger to the present political order; for the country is caught up in a situation in which the US has high stakes and it would be loath to countenance instability prevailing here for long. The scenario of public wrath and police excesses has been on display on TV screens since the long marchers took to the streets of Lahore on Sunday to proceed to Islamabad and PML(N) leader Mian Nawaz Sharif defied his house arrest, terming it illegal, and came out to lead them. Apart from the fact that some PPP stalwarts had resigned from their political jobs earlier in protest, and the open disagreement of several others, with official policies, latest reports indicate that a PPP Parliamentary Secretary and Deputy Attorney have tendered their resignations. Earlier in the day, a sizeable number of protesters had somehow managed to bypass barricades and gathered at prominent places in Lahore and several other towns. While they were peacefully shouting slogans, the police deliberately provoked them to anger and, as a result, they began pelting stones. The police fired tear gas shells to disperse them, resulting in injuries to a number of them. Besides, scores of political leaders supporting the long march and sit-in were put under house arrest. They included Mian Nawaz Sharif, Mian Shahbaz Sharif, leader of the lawyers movement Ch Aitzaz Ahsan, Jamaat-i-Islami Amir Qazi Hussain Ahmad, PML(N) leader Javed Hashmi and Tehrik-i-Insaf chief Imran Khan. Hundreds of activists were arrested. But these measures did not deter the crowd that kept on growing. Time is fast running out for the authorities to take appropriate measures to calm tempers. It calls for not only taking back certain recent divisive decisions but also honouring the commitments President Zardari has made. Otherwise, the crisis shows no signs of petering out with time.