The media went haywire on Saturday as the news of National Assembly Speaker Sardar Ayaz Sadiq filing a reference against Supreme Court judge Asif Saeed Khosa picked up traction. The reference is expected to make the current situation between the government and the judiciary even more uncomfortable and is ill-advised.

Attorney General Ashtar Ausaf Ali has hinted at ignorance of a reference being filed, and it seems that the PML-N has taken the step without heeding good advice, or seeking it. Reports reveal that it is targeted against the portion of the Panama judgement which blamed the Speaker for being partisan and not initiating investigations, which made it necessary for the Supreme Court to intervene and not the entire judgement. As of yet, the Speaker’s office has not confirmed or denied the existence of a reference, which has muddled the whole situation further.

Such a confrontation, with a respected state institution will not go down well for the former PM, or his political survival. While just former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif vocally expressing his displeasure about the military’s history and the judiciary was bad enough, elected representatives of the house and members of the executive chiming in is dangerous on a whole other level. Whatever one’s view of the judgement, there was nothing legally wrong with the statement.

National Assembly Speaker Ayaz Sadiq and other PML-N loyalists should know that loyalty to the party also entails staying true to the government and looking to complete their term in power. Nawaz Sharif is not the be-all and end-all of their party and their government. Other leaders of the party need to ensure that the PML-N comes out without further losses, but at this rate, other leaders might also be on the outs soon enough.

Staying in government means working with institutions such as the judiciary and the army, instead of upping the ante on the rhetoric against the judiciary. Beyond the next ten months, even if the PML-N does not manage on forming a government in the next term, it is likely to have an important role to play, which is why top leaders should keep themselves well clear of calling out institutions when there is no need to do so.

The PML-N has so far – from its words and actions – expressed an unwillingness to deter from the path of putting the government at odds with other national institutions. Using this dismissal as an early election campaign is all well and good, but there is a line the ruling party cannot cross, and filing references against sitting judges for aspects of the judgement is well past that.