Noor Israr describes the iHigh level turmoil in the country
It appears that High level turmoil matters are gradually coming on to a boil with the chances of their getting burst out any moment. Political uncertainty is ratcheting up with different segments of the social spectrum positioning themselves up for the future conflict. Many analysts are of the opinion that after the fall of PTI government, battle lines were decisively drawn and the current turmoil is not surprising in its content as it was bound to happen. Agitating after being dislodged from office is now a very strong tendency in Pakistan and it is observed that this method has come to stay as it ensures the survival of the failed political executive. All stakeholders in the governance system resort to this practice with a view to safeguard their interests and there is no denying the fact that such policy pays required dividends ensuring the continuation of such a practice.
The first part of such a policy is to draw battle lines against the establishment with the view to browbeat it by showing the level of popular support that is intended to be pitched against the elements of establishment. This is precisely what path has been taken by the PTI leadership that believes that it has the required popular support to put pressure on both the coalition government and the establishment. This time round the beginning of the friction was the martyrdom of a senior general and five of his companions in a helicopter crash while inspecting the ravages caused by inclement weather in Balochistan. This incident started a string of demeaning social media trolls that are to be condemned as this reaction crossed every line of decency as they were aimed at belittling the sacrifice of brave people giving up their lives in the cause of humanity. Such incidents, in any case, should not become material for politically motivated propaganda but what was witnessed was a political scoring match that cares nothing about scruples at all.
The revile campaign was condemned by the ISPR as hurtful and derogatory that has caused deep anguish and distress to the victims’ families and the military’s rank and file. Though the identity and affiliation of those who drove the campaign is yet to be definitively established but the absence of former Prime Minister Imran Khan and President Arif Alvi from the martyrs’ funerals sparked speculation, putting the PTI leadership on the back foot and scrambling for damage control. Meanwhile, a former office-bearer of the PTI’s student wing issued a video statement in which he apologised for his role in the social media campaign. Clearly, matters this time have gone too far and patience with foul-mouthed, out-of-control online activists is running thin. This campaign compelled the policy makers to reflect that to rein in such a practice there must be no exceptions to the collective repudiation of invective that nowadays passes for political rhetoric or fair comment.
As if it was not enough the vilification campaign was taken to a new and high level when the chief of staff to former PM Iran Khan, Shahbaz Gill was arrested on the charges of inciting the lower and middle tiers of the army to ignore the orders of their senior officers who are aiding and abetting a government that has been wrongly installed. Gill who was arrested under sedition charges was remanded in Police custody for two days. Shahbaz Gill was arrested from Banigala Chowk and his arrest was termed as abduction by the PTI. The court hearing the case allowed his remand to the police on the grounds to find out other persons allegedly involved in the commission of the offence. The court order said that Gill’s remand was also sought for the recovery of the mobile phone allegedly used for the commission of the offence for the purpose of voice matching through forensics, and to verify that the interview given by the accused from the head office of the media house which is situated in Karachi. Moreover, the order stated that the remand was sought for the verification of the video from the media house.
After airing the comments of Shahbaz Gill ARY news channel disappeared from TV screens and it was reported that Karachi police have registered an FIR against its CEO Salman Iqbal and others in connection with some controversial remarks made by PTI leader Shahbaz Gill during a news programme. The police have also arrested Ammad Yousuf, the head of ARY News, from his residence in DHA, Karachi. It was also reported that ARY producers Adeel Raja, Yousaf and anchorpersons Arshad Sharif and Khawar Ghuman have also been nominated in the registered case. The case is filed under Sections 121 (waging war against Pakistan), 506 (criminal intimidation), 505 (statements conducive to public mischief), 153 (wantonly provoking with the intent to cause riot), 153-A (promoting enmity between different groups), 131 (abetting mutiny or attempting to seduce a soldier, sailor or airman from his duty), 124-A (sedition), 120 (concealing the design to commit an offence punishable with imprisonment), 34 (common intention) and 109 (abetment) of the Pakistan Penal Code. The FIR said that a clip of a news bulletin, aired on 8 August by ARY News, had gone viral on social media, in which Gill had made hateful remarks against the Pakistan Army with Arshad Sharif and Khawar Ghuman also participating in the programme as analysts.
The FIR alleged that by expressing such views in the programme, the PTI and ARY News were clearly creating a divide between sections of the armed forces that expressed loyalty to the party and those that did not. It stated that they are sowing hatred and rebellion in the armed forces adding that they were also threatening government officers against following the government’s directives. It went on by mentioning that this is a pre-meditated, organised conspiracy that is being used to create hatred between the armed forces and government departments and that it was evident that individuals who participated in the programme had perpetrated the conspiracy in collusion with the producer, director and CEO.
It was reported that a special investigation team had been constituted to probe the FIR registered against Gill that would be responsible for collecting relevant information related to all the concerned individuals and seizing relevant records/evidence. The team has further been instructed to obtain digital information from the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) for the purpose of investigating the case and that report may be furnished in seven days. After Shahbaz Gill was remanded, former PM Imran Khan defended him but said no word about the remarks attributed to him. PTI leadership echoed the stance taken by their leader though PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry expressed hope that misunderstandings pertaining to Gill’s case would be soon resolved. He added that though Shahbaz Gill’s words may be inappropriate, but words do not make any person a traitor.
Meanwhile, Punjab Chief Minister Parvez Elahi, when questioned about Gill’s comments and whether the PTI should distance itself from them, said that the party absolutely should do that. He said that he has given a statement against Gill’s comments and added that they have caused harm, not benefit. These are our honourable institutions and a statement has been given against our army that protects our borders that is simply bereft of wisdom. TW