The upcoming days are going to be very challenging for the sitting government, with several agitated sectors - doctors, traders, and businessmen - giving a new life to the politics of Jamiat Ulema-e Islam Fazl (JUI-F) and particularly Maulana Fazlur Rehman. The growing inflation, the reduction in the purchasing power of the average consumer, the failure to meet the quarterly goals set by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the losses being incurred by the local industry are prompting several to join the opposition in their criticism of the government, and judging by the number of people out to support their leaders, the support being offered to this March is massive.

Despite the Rahbar Committee’s pact with the government to remain away from the Red Zone in Islamabad and Maulana’s repeated affirmations, the parties joining the March seem to have other plans. Leaders from Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) have appeared on several talk shows to remind the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaaf (PTI) government of how they did not respect their pact with the government in their political procession in 2014. Similarly, Chairman of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has also urged their followers and party members to prepare for new elections. More than PPP at this point, PML-N is willing to participate in anti-government politics because of the ailment of their leader Nawaz Sharif and his delayed bail.

The government is taking a more defensive stance by directing news channels to not air the speeches of their opposition, as confirmed by several anchors on their shows, which goes against the essence and the liberty offered to media by the PML-N government during the time of PTI’s political processions. The further alienation of protestors will result in chaos - a situation the government cannot afford. The government needs to identify areas it can improve in, involve the opposition in policymaking if negotiation is the agenda. Preventing protestors from reaching their desired destination will also push them to take a hard stance, as confirmed by leaders of JUI-F. The situation needs to be managed with great care and political acumen because the number of aggrieved persons is increasing by the day. If both sides continue to engage in political rhetoric instead of finding a common ground to work upon, it will disillusion supporters once again.