The incident at Khar Qamar check post in North Waziristan tribal district is an extremely troubling one. The loss of life and injury on both sides is lamentable as it is, but the potential for the situation to escalate further is what should concern us the most. The slightest miscalculation will send the region hurtling down – everyone involved must slowly back away from the edge, and let composure and reason take the lead.

The greatest onus for this lies on the PTM. The movement may be getting increasingly frustrated with the slow progress of restitution it was promised, but it has no excuse to use force against the state and security agencies - not even as a show of protest. The PTM’s defining characteristic, one that has been extolled by its leaders such as Manzoor Pashteen and one that has allowed it to gain support beyond the tribal region, is its commitment to non-violence. Even in testing times the movement’s commitment to non-violence has allowed it to paint itself as a legitimate rights-based organization and distinguish itself from other pressure groups, whose use of force has made them an enemy of the state. Charging at a security post is not a protest, it is tempting a conflict.

The PTM’s message attempts to be a peaceful one, and its demands can be discussed – this view finds support among both civilian and military leadership. The source of the conflict stems from the manner of protest. The movement is doing itself a discredit by using any kind of force.

It is hoped that the leaders of the movement recognize this and seek de-escalation, as should the security agencies. Showing lenience to the arrested workers would go a long way in cooling unnecessarily inflamed emotions. Meanwhile PTM also must realise that it doesn’t have a free pass. And nor should it have a free pass.