The government is in a tough spot, with the opposition march on Islamabad just around the corner it has to figure out a way to allay their concerns and somehow forestall the protest. However, with the protest building steam as more opposition factions join it, Maulana Fazl-ur-Rehaman – the de facto leader of the protest – is in no mood to make concessions. The demand, the resignation of the Prime Minister, is obviously disproportionate and unacceptable, and since no other demand has been made the government committee – spearheaded by Defense Minister Pervez Khattak – is sputtering in its public rebuttal.

The government has many legitimate concerns; the fact that the protestors might disrupt the law and order situation in the twin cities, the fact that the protestors might stray beyond the designated protest areas, and that the protestors may resort to violence. Beyond these practical concerns, their principle objection - that the opposition parties have called this protest without approaching alternative and legitimate institutions for redress, such as the Parliament and the Supreme Court – also stands as a valid objection.

However, when the government tries to jam the Kashmir narrative in this discourse it loses authenticity in its concerns. In the current environment, when Kashmir is Pakistan’s primary foreign policy concern, calling every challenge to the government “anti-Kashmir” is illogical and unfair. Furthermore, using the sensitive issue of Kashmir to shut down dissent is misuse of the legitimate problem. Pervez Khattak saying that “it seems people (in Pakistan) are working on their (Indian) agenda” and that “they are happy to see Pakistan descend into chaos” is muddying the debate surrounding the protest.

The government should try to solve this issue before it becomes a reality; it is bound to do so. Similarly the opposition would not want to negotiate till it has the maximum leverage; it is bound to do so. In the meanwhile the government should use only legitimate arguments to dissuade the opposition.