Imran Khan's interior minister (Shaikh Rasheed) went too far this time. When he was railways minister, he used to double as information minister (like practically all the other ministers in the selected government). He would make predictions about the disintegration of the opposition and other such stuff, even though it was not his job. In fact, he used to talk about everything except why the country's trains are always late and in such a sorry state.

This time, he miscalculated. He should not have arrested the leader of the militant religious party TLP. Not only that, he also banned the party and confiscated the assets of its leaders. The reaction was swift. The whole of Lahore was in chaos yesterday, the militants first kidnapping twelve police personnel, then throwing petrol bombs on the rangers and cops. They got the petrol from a tanker which they had commandeered earlier. 

At first, the loud mouth Shaikh Rasheed put up a brave front, saying that he would not negotiate with the rebels. Unfortunately for him, all the other religious parties chose to side with the TLP. Even the non-political Tableeghi Jamaat criticized the government for using force to end the crisis. A total strike is being observed in the country today. 

So I wasn't surprised when a subdued Shaikh Rasheed suddenly announced that the Punjab government had negotiated with the militants and all captured policemen had been released. I can also safely predict that the ban on the party will be lifted and all the arrested militants will be released. The final nail in the coffin, of course, will be the departure of the French ambassador. This will naturally be a great blow to Imran Khan, who likes to portray himself as a powerful leader without whom this country would collapse. 

One of the demands by the TLP is that Shaikh Rasheed should be tried for using force and killing their workers. I doubt if this will happen, but if he is made to resign, it will be a great victory for the suffering people of Pakistan. The man is absolutely useless.