The Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaaf has thrown down the gauntlet for PML-N and members of the ruling party have accepted the challenge. The only problem is that this duel looks more old fashioned than the ones democratic nations are used to seeing – this is no battle for the ballot, but instead street power versus governmental manipulation.

On the legal end, apart from the Supreme Court’s decision to take up the Panama Leaks issue on November 1, Shahbaz Sharif has taken offence at the accusations levelled against him by the PTI Chief, and has promised to file a defamation suit worth Rs 26.5 billion against Imran Khan. But it doesn’t end there – Aleem Khan is sending a legal notice of his own to Punjab’s Chief Minister as well. This flurry of accusations are mostly just that – unfounded accusations.

While PTI is mustering its strength, and reportedly looking to the strength of other more violent elements with a chequered history, the Punjab government has summoned 10,000 policemen to the provincial capital. The federal government is looking to slow down the protesters before they reach the capital, and for this, all exit and entry points to Islamabad will be closely monitored, which will cause a traffic crush without question, and will block roads with containers much like it did in 2014. Police contingents have already been posted outside Jahangir Tareen’s house and Aleem Khan’s office, even though the government has ruled out arrests as a part of its arsenal and given no justification for this act.

The Islamabad High Court (IHC) has also weighed in on the unfolding events. It rightfully termed courts the only third umpire and ruled that no one had the power to close down the capital at will. Its judgement reflects sense where it can be seen nowhere else; it recognises the right to protest of the hundreds of thousands preparing for their march on the capital, but gives precedence to the rights of the millions of inhabitants of the capital. However, this umpiring cannot be unconstitutional or biased, which it is loath to be, until the PTI actually breaks laws. The locals stand to lose mobility and livelihood, and it is those people the court is protecting, but the event of their harm has not happened yet and the judiciary must not open itself to criticism by opposition parties.

If both parties were to focus their energies on the November 1 hearing at the Supreme Court, a lot of trouble could be avoided. PTI is right in stating that the government will blockade Islamabad anyway, even if the party falls short. The government’s grand plan to stop the movement is only adding fuel to the fire. They might as well just wall up all roads leading to Islamabad and be done with it. Both sides will never back down and the real loser as always is the general public.