In 2014 it was provincial Law Minister Rana Sanaullah who was sacked for the Pakistan Awami Tehrik (PAT) deaths in Lahore. Two years later, history repeats; Information Minister Pervaiz Rasheed has been told to step down, neatly blamed for the Dawn leak. Both the events and rolling heads had nothing to do with PTI’s dharna, it was the juggernaut PML-N’s own doing; self-correcting, just enough to avoid any loss of power.

The reason for the dismissal as stated on Sunday by Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar was that Pervaiz Rasheed acted irresponsibly and should have told Cyril Almeida that the story was incorrect. It was also his responsibility to make the newspaper drop the story, even though it is a departure from reality to assume that a call from a minister is enough to halt a news story. Chaudhry Nisar did not directly accuse the Information Minister, which could imply that Rasheed was not the leak. If so, how would he stop the story’s publication in advance, unless he knew the source of the leak and the newspaper’s plan? The other implication is that Rasheed, or whomever the “investigation” will uncover, made up lies, since in usual contradictory fashion, Chaudhry Nisar still insisted that the story was fabricated and baseless. Suffice to say, the pieces do not fit.

While the government’s explanation of the leaks made no sense, the PML-N has other tricks up its sleeves. In a move to strengthen the armour around him, the PM has announced a Rs 3.9 billion project in Kohat in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, where PTI is in government. Additionally, the party has been able to disrupt the protest plans with road blockages and detaining leaders, and we may see a smaller crowd. The PML-N can get away with mild anxiety rather than full-blown panic. The sacking of Pervaiz Rasheed and the launching of a military-heavy inquiry will decrease tensions with the military and take the wind out of PTI’s sails.

The only thing left in the PTI arsenal is the fight over the PM’s alleged corruption, though they are unwilling to push the agenda in just the parliament. On Saturday, PTI Vice-Chairman Shah Mehmood Qureshi said they wanted a parliamentary session in order to pass the opposition-sponsored bill on the Panama Papers leaks. If this demand is met, will the PTI cancel the dharna? Not likely. The fact is that the above claims were made to make the PTI look reasonable. To pass an opposition bill in just one day, one that is antagonistic to the majority party, is a hard thing to accomplish in any parliament.

November 2 is the PTI’s saving grace after so many dead ends. But while the PML-N may be riddled with gaps and weakness, they are just too big a challenge for PTI’s street power.

In the dark cycle of Pakistani politics, just like Rana Sanaullah, Pervaiz Rasheed will make a comeback. The purge is temporary and non-damaging for the PML-N. And so is PTI’s dharna.