First things first: why is Pakistan’s Railways Minister suddenly the man calling all the shots? We left a railways man in charge of air traffic control on the fateful day Tahir ul Qadri was to land in Pakistan. He’s the one assuring everybody of a vote recount, and he’s the one appealing to Imran Khan to change the day and venue of his demonstration. In the latest in his long list of extracurricular activities, Khawaja Saad Rafique is letting the nation know that the government doesn’t plan to use any force on the day of the PTI Long March. Apart from a gentle reminder to the government and the honourable minister of his actual designation and what it entails, let us focus on his latest statement for a moment: “the government will not use force to stop the PTI march.”

The government will not need to sponsor the use of any force; force will be shown. Violence and chaos will ensue. It is a huge mistake the government is making- pitting PML-N workers and PTI activists against each other in the same place, at the same time, for seemingly “opposed” ideologies. The atmosphere will inevitably be charged and passionate from both sides. Emotions will run high, and like a band of puppeteers, government leaders behind their bullet proof shields will be able to manoeuvre the gathering into a mob that might cause more damage than any of us can imagine. On any given Independence Day, the spirit of a public holiday combined with the passions of the young, result in chaos and hooliganism on the streets. And once locked in a single arena, the “patriots” vs. the anti-heroes, could be dangerous to life and property. If the aim is the reaching of some form of theatrical conclusion, whereby two “armies” stand against each other in a face-off, it is a badly thought out gimmick. The government is advised in the interests of public safety if nothing else, to take the high road. If the PTI is not budging from its stance, the burden of responsibility falls squarely on the PML-N. Let the day begin and end quietly, without the indignities of a mob going at one another.