Writing this week’s piece has been a painful experience. Painful, because events in the country have forced me to deviate from the regular theme of the Sunday column. I have an overwhelming respect for the judiciary and the armed forces as national institutions since many members of my family have practiced at the Bar and sat on the Bench. Similarly many of my relatives have served this country in uniform and some have laid down their lives for their homeland. I believe that in an environment where political leadership falls to the lowest possible level of moral bankruptcy, the responsibility of restoring sanity falls squarely in the laps of institutions such as these.

Since coming into an age, where I began to take cognisance of national politics, I have clung desperately to optimism in the hope that we would learn from our mistakes and have the moral courage to acknowledge the flaws in our national character. This optimism has now been replaced by frustration and regret.

We have ‘deitified’ personalities (howsoever corrupt and crime ridden they may be) closing our eyes, ears and minds to evidence that indicts them. This ‘deitification’ has spawned dynastic political leadership that is nothing short of monarchies. It is to our great misfortune that during the last three and a half decades, we have been ruled by two political parties, which are stark embodiment of dynastic politics.

The current monarchy has a history of poor judgment and ‘shooting itself in the foot’, driven perhaps by panic, sheer lack of wisdom or both. In the current situation this is palpably visible in measures being adopted against the PTI protest. All major routes connecting Islamabad with the rest of the country are being blocked by containers and mass arrests of PTI workers are in progress. It is in such a scenario that statements coming from different ruling party stalwarts are beginning to sound hollow and even comic. If the Ruling Party is so sure of its popularity and proclamations that the ‘dharna’ will fail then it should put its money, where its mouth is and remove all barricades. Let the people of Pakistan come or not come, in response to the call, of their own free will. Let the nation judge for itself as to how many people attend the PTI congregation unhindered by dictatorial obstacles. I am voicing popular opinion, when I say that all eyes are now on the Apex Court and the 1st of November to see justice and accountability being administered to whosoever is found guilty.

In an uncalled for move, the Punjab Government has effectively sealed the border with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The move is another indication of the desperation that now infests both Federal and Punjab Governments. It manifests lack of foresight totally disregarding adverse effects to the Federation. It would be very wise of the Punjab Government to remove this blockade without further delay, before untold long term damage is caused.

There are also reports that some saner minds in PML-N are advising the Prime Minister to appear before the Supreme Court on 1st November. The question is, will such an appearance occur? The answer in all probability is negative. If by a long shot it does happen, then it may prove to be a move in the right direction and will go the PM’s credit.

The country is rife with rumours with regards to Army’s role in this crisis. I am quite clear in my mind that the top army leadership has decided to follow its constitutional mandate and stay out of the mess. They must however be tracking developments in real time and keeping an eye on the pulse of the people. This is one institution that has earned the respect of the nation and will do nothing that tarnishes this image in an unconstitutional manner.

In summary, worry is writ large on the faces of PML-N leadership. It is also manifested in statements and police action. In a show of how not to handle things, the ruling party reactions are in reality, force multiplying PTI agitation.