Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) press conference, which was promised to bring the government crashing down by presenting irrefutable proof of electoral rigging, did nothing of the sort. Another anti-climax. It did have the government worried enough to hold press conferences of its own to preempt the PTI’s onslaught. Had it known that its legitimacy would be challenged by a Power Point presentation and inconclusive claims, it may have put its time and efforts elsewhere. After promising the contrary, the government has now allowed the PTI to conduct its rally on 30th November in Islamabad, with conditions attached, of course. The PTI has been sending mixed signals regarding its show. Imran has said that his patience has run out, and he will take the government head on this time. Sheikh Rasheed’s statements unequivocally calling for violence are also on record. But, Imran has also said that the rally will be peaceful and the government has nothing to worry about unless it causes disruption. It is the second statement that the government is counting on, that everyone is counting on. Whether the PTI will hold true to its word this time around remains to be seen.

The political atmosphere is charged as ever. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s statements hitting out at the PTI during the groundbreaking ceremony of the Hazara Motorway, show that the government doesn’t plan to stay on the defensive anymore. In fact, the change in the entire cabinet’s language is all too visible. The thinking in the PML-N camp is that the PTI doesn’t enjoy the support of its patrons – the military –like it did the last time it arrived to conquer Islamabad. Media channels, which openly and strongly supported the PTI at the behest of the military, also seem to have crawled out of the bed. The PPP’s stance remains adequately ambiguous. It doesn’t want democracy derailed. It doesn’t want Imran to be the only face of the opposition either. The result is Rehman Malik calling for the inclusion of ISI and MI officials in the judicial commission while other PPP leaders reject the PTI’s demand as unconstitutional. If the PTI doesn’t pull a PTI, 30th November will come and pass. If it does, it can count on the government to hit back as hard as it can get away with.