Emboldened by the numbers at his Quetta rally, Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (Fazl) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman seems confident that he has his fingers on the public’s pulse and plans to escalate his agitation to match that. He has given an ultimatum to the Prime Minister Imran Khan and his government - to immediately step down or face a “million man march” on Islamabad in October which will be followed by a sit-in.

However, as is often the case with politicians who spend too much time preaching to their own constituencies, the Maulana has misread the public’s mood, and spectacularly at that. The public is undeniably upset with the downturn in the economy and the uptick in the taxes, but not to the extent that they would consider forcibly toppling the government through a sit-in to be the only recourse. In fact the majority agrees that the government needs to adopt austerity measures to bring our deficit and debt liabilities under control.

Even if they did disagree with the government’s economic policies they certainly would not agree that toppling the government one year into its tenure is the correct option. Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf’s sit-in, despite its popular support, exhausted the nation and disrupted life in the country beyond reason. In the end they failed to achieve what they were after, lost a lot of goodwill with the people, and only managed to set a dangerous precedent for assaults on the capital that followed.

The JUI-F chief would do better to rethink his strategy. While he certainly has the right to protest his opposition as vociferously as he likes, an ultimatum backed march on the capital is a different affair. No one in Pakistan wants another disruptive sit-in, and for a country struggling to strengthen its economy, such a chaotic period would be highly detrimental.