Those attacked have reacted. There has been a response to the protests which have swept the country after the violent reaction to PTI chief Imran Khan’s arrest on Tuesday led to the trashing of Lahore’s Crops Commander’s residence and other Army buildings. While Wednesday’s protests seem to have seen a widening of the scope of protests, with the Radio Pakistan building in Peshawar being torched, the protests remain focused on the cantonments of various cities. The ISPR has issued a press release declaring that the armed forces will react to further attacks on its installations. The press release also said that the facilitators, planners and political rioters would not be tolerated. It made clear that it had evidence that these attacks were being deliberately targeted, that what had not ben achieved by hostile foreign powers in 75 years had been achieved by one group. Apart from the damage done to government buildings, for which taxpayers’ money will be used to repair, there has been an irreparable loss of life, with four reported dead in the protests so far.
The release said, and rightly so, that action against all miscreants would be taken according to law. It also accused certain political forces, clearly Mr Khan’s supporters, of organising the protests to achieve particular political ends. The crisis is by no means over, though the relative calm prevailing in major cities may be an indication that the worst may be past. There will be a plethora of follow-up activity, such as arrests, court cases and perhaps even terrorism charges. However, it might well be time for the armed forces themselves to take a long hard look at what has happened, and to what extent the targeting of the military is because of its having helped create the monster that is now bothering it so much.
However, that is perhaps an activity for a calmer time. To handle the immediate crisis, perhaps it is necessary for the PTI leadership, some of whom have already been arrested, to issue a call for calm. While party workers, like all citizens, have a right to protest, that can only be done legally and peacefully, no matter how deeply their feelings have been hurt. The law must be applied in such a manner that peace is brought about in the country as soon as possible, and the law is allowed to take its course.