I have been a permanent resident of the Federal Capital since the last twenty years, but my association with this city dates back to short residential stints commencing in 1973. Let me hasten to add in all fairness that I am, but a late arrival to a city that was rated as one of the most environmentally attractive capitals of the world. I say this because Islamabad is home to families, who preceded me by almost two and a half decades. Nonetheless, this city is my home – a fact that was painfully impressed upon me as I drove to work this morning. Turning into a road, I was confronted with a CDA signboard apologizing for the inconvenience caused to citizens due to the Metro Bus Project. I almost stopped my car to strike down the offending text and tell the world that this apology was an unacceptable affront.

I have strong reason to be angry and frustrated, for the once tranquil jewel nestling in the lap of the picturesque Margalla Hills has been ravaged on account of senseless decision making. First, our peace was shattered by the coming of the Metro Bus Project. Avenues were ripped up, traffic was disrupted as were businesses along the proposed route and lush greenery was coated with a layer of dust and grime. What prompted the PML N Government to plague us with the project is something beyond the farthest reaches of logic, forcing us to a single conclusion i.e. the project and its multibillion cost has beneficiaries – and these are definitely not the residents of the Federal Capital.

Then came the two long marches and ‘dharnas’, which put everyone on edge – not because of any threat from agitating parties, whose motives to descend on Islamabad were constitutionally correct and authenticated by historical attitudes. Concern stemmed from official steps taken to stop the two rallies from converging on Islamabad. The residents of this city and its suburbs were confined to their homes, unable to even restock their larders, because of earth filled containers that were placed across roads in a fruitless bid to stop the incoming crowds. The two agitating parties did make it to their destination and sat there through a rain of rubber bullets and tear gas. While one of these parties pulled out of the sit-in amid controversy, PTI stuck to their guns and continued to draw crowds even as their protest crossed the hundred day mark. In time, the containers were removed and the city began returning to normal even as men, women and children continued to attend Imran Khan’s daily evening speech opposite the Parliament House.

Then came Khan Sahib’s call for a mammoth gathering on 30 November and it is panic all over again. The ruling party has done its best to appear nonchalant, but their state of mind is more than apparent from their actions. Political wisdom dictates that PTI should be allowed to gather as many people as they can without the slightest of hindrance, but this is not likely to happen. Containers have already been placed at various points on the roads leading to the Red Zone and others will soon appear on routes into the Federal Capital. Citizens will once again be confined to their homes and even emergency vehicles will face difficulty in performing their duties. And all this will happen, not because of the ‘dharna’, but because of a government that is unsure of its footing and will risk putting the public through inconvenience, while provoking a law and order situation by police action against people, who are exercising their constitutional right to attend the public meeting peacefully.

Even as I write this piece, I am receiving rumors of behind the scenes contacts between the Government and PTI to find a solution to, what in my reckoning is a cauldron ready to boil over into violence, if wisdom and restraint is not resorted to. As a peace loving Pakistani, I hope this bit of news is correct.

The writer is a freelance columnist