When mud-slinging and hate-speech become part of our political rhetoric, the blame of mob-justice and violence falls squarely on the shoulders of the office-bearers that spew it. Such violence enacted by perpetrators holding the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) flags and ambushing Nawaz Sharif in Avenfield, is a tragic manifestation of our distorted political narrative that is inherently based on incitement and spite.

The truth of the matter remains that such acts of spite-driven bravado have become an overarching part of the larger election campaign, specifically that of PTI. When the leadership itself has limited its ideology to a vendetta, it is to be expected that fervent followers seek to express their misdirected jubilation with such violence. The same applies to the larger public, imbibing the predominant political narrative which -even if factual- is laced with theatrical malevolence and outrage, a hook that politicians and the media have used to snare even the most detached spectator.

The populist jalsa/dharna/mob culture while a tool in effecting change, is hugely susceptible to violence and imposed morality; it is not the first time PTI protesters have been incited to violence, PTI protests in 2013 against election rigging broke into scuffles injuring media persons, while in 2017 activists were arrested for ransacking the Pesco office in Batkhela.

The opposing political parties should set an example in adopting a demeanour of grace rather than instigative gloating. Where the PML-N leadership has been charged and duly sentenced, the political impact is yet to be felt by the polity, delayed by the more palatable absolution that the elections will accord. While the Avenfield verdict was a decisive sentence which will entail a seismic impact on the political landscape, it was undertaken by a court under the determination of the rule of law, while such mob-violence and instigation is unacceptable and should be soundly condemned by the PTI leadership. Otherwise such illicit expressions of misplaced vindication will keep repeating themselves.