On a knife edge

Source Dawn

Islamabad on Nov 2. Not in large numbers, but just enough to cause alarm.Because the government is already alarmed, even the minimum could work. A bunch of stragglers here and there chanting and marching towards police barricades, TV cameras in tow.Then, let the government do its thing and be its ham-fisted, overkill, aggressive self.Police charging at protesters, women getting roughed up, men being thwacked over the head by batons; melee and mayhem. In minutes, a national crisis — and space for real danger.The real danger being blood on the streets. A policeman too quick to use his gun. A protester armed with more than stones and his fists. An interloper inserted to create mischief.But the N-League has several cards of its own to play.First, it has disrupted the PTI’s run-up to Nov 2. Scattering protesters, detaining leaders — it will have an effect on potential crowd size next Wednesday.That could reduce the protests to a manageable level, allowing for the police to remain disciplined and the N-League to not go into full panic mode.Second, the N-League could release some pressure on the civ-mil front. Offering up Pervaiz Rasheed, albeit temporarily, and green-lighting a military-heavy inquiry buys time — and casts doubt over the finality of Imran’s mission.

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Categories: Asia, Pakistan

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