Yesterday, Pakistan People’s Party Leader, Bilawal Bhutto, went to the accountability court in Islamabad for his first ever hearing. He was called to record his statements to progress the Park Lane Estate case registered against his father, former President Asif Ali Zardari, and his aunt, Faryal Talpur, and it is a case in which Bilawal, unfortunately, might be implicated as well. Despite claiming that the case was fake and the investigation was biased, both father and son have made it clear that they are ready to comply with the Courts, will give respect to the hearings and prove themselves innocent before law.

Unfortunately, the scene outside the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) court yesterday was not the law-abiding peaceful-protest environment that one would expect from a left-leaning progressive party like the PPP. The ambience outside the court can only be described as chaos-reports indicate that there was chaos outside the court, with party workers pelting stones at police officers. At least six policemen were injured in the clashes, police officials said Police officials and 38 PPP workers were arrested. PPP Senator Mustafa Khokar doubled down on his workers’ behaviour, saying every political party has a right to protest.

It was the right of party workers to assemble themselves outside of the court to register a peaceful protest against the treatment doled out towards their leader- but there is a difference between peaceful protest and unruly behaviour and violence against law enforcement agencies. PPP leaders have time and time again reiterated their commitment towards rule of law and respecting democratic institutions- but their statements against the court lately seem to be lacking this sentiment. While Bilawal should not be held responsible for his party members’ conduct, we do hope he condemns the unnecessary rowdiness that occurred yesterday, and keeps in mind how confronting courts worked out the last time a prominent politician did it.