By Irfan Mahar*
The whole world is condemning the political victimization of the editor-in-Chief of Geo-Jang Group Media House, Mir Shakil-ur-Rehman. Likewise, Mir Shakil-ur-Rehman also considers his arrest as political victimization because of personal grudges with the ruling elite of the country. Since he has been under trial in 34 years old private property case.
Furthermore, at the present political environment, the government of Prime Minister Imran Khan has been focusing more on opening the cases and arresting the leaders of major political parties of Pakistan. There is a massive portion of the population all over the world who believe that these political parties and individuals are those persons who criticize the policies and actions of the present government.
Therefore, it is widely considered by a vast number of people throughout the world that the owner of the country’s biggest Media group is also suffering from this political victimization. It is believed that the biggest crime of Mir Shakil-ur-Rehman is that his media group shows the real face of present ruling elites who do not want reality to be shown off to people. In addition, many interviews were interrupted by government and closed them after running a few minutes, such as an interview of former president Asif Ali Zardari with Hamid Mir on Geo News.
In response, the senior journalist and one of the top anchorpersons of Pakistan, Hamid Mir, said that “What’s wrong in it? I asked some questions to ex-President of Pakistan Asif Ali Zardari. Is he bigger criminal than Ehsanullah Ehsan former spokesman of TTP Remember Ehsanullah Ehsan gave an interview from official custody I interviewed Asif Zardari in Parliament House”. Furthermore, during Maryam Nawaz’s (Daughter of former PM Nawaz Sharif) live press conference was taken off air across the country from various news channels such as Channel 24, Abbtak News, and Capital TV. This shows the negative and undemocratic behaviour at the hands of the present government which creates many doubts in the minds of people.
While PM Khan at various national and international forums talks and gives lectures over the freedom of the press within Pakistan. At the one side, PM Khan has stated many times about the freedom of the press within the country. While on the other side, he is considered one of the worst PMs in the history of Pakistan, who has restricted media groups to conduct the interviews of opposition and share their point of view regarding multiple issues within the country. These policies, actions, and restrictions over many people including media show the undemocratic, biased, and unjust behaviour of an incumbent government that portrays the real picture of policies and actions of the government in front of the whole world.
In this regard, Member of National Assembly (MNA) and former Finance Minister Ishaq Dar alleged the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government that it has been focusing on political victimization instead of focusing on the economic growth and development of the country. He further explained that Prime Minister Imran Khan had been following the path of political victimization along with he wanted to run the country on donations and bagging. He added that “only charities are run through donation, not countries for the running country well we will have to be strengthened financially”.
Moreover, recent sugar and wheat scandals in which billion of rupees were looted by the close allies of PM Imran Khan like Jahangir Tareen and Khusro Bakhtiar’s brother. In these cases, the NAB is following proper procedure according to rules, regulations and law but when it comes to opposition parties, owner of the media group, and critique of PM Imran Khan’s government, it arrests the accused first than starts searching for proves and other documents against these people which shows the biased behaviour on the side of the NAB. In addition, the Inquiry Commission had to submit the final report on 25th of April 2020, as instructed by the Prime Minister of Pakistan but recently Commission announced the delay in submission of the report.
Since the Commission asks for more time to investigate and submit a final report as predicted by the minister of Pakistan Railways Shaikh Rashid. PTI government allies, ministers, and sugar mafia are so powerful since they are threatening government against legal action. Moreover, sugar mafia of Pakistan threatens DG FIA and PM Imran Khan to stop inquiries into their dirty operations against them otherwise government should be prepared for consequences. Such as Jahangir Tareen in an interview broadcasted on Dunya news mentioned that he was the important figure in gathering the influential MNAs and MPAs throughout the country particularly Punjab province who became the major reason in making the Imran Khan’s government.
PM Imran Khan’s maximum reaction towards the corruption cases of his ministers and allies is only limited to shuffling of persons from one portfolio to another which does not seem sufficient. In this regard, it is also considered by a vast majority of people all over the world that the behaviour of National Accountability Bureau (NAB) also gives the picture of selective justice that is only limited to the parties and persons who are a critique of the present government or in opposition. They have the view that NAB is mull over the corruption cases of the people sitting in government which portrays the clear picture of unjust actions of this institute.
Moreover, this behaviour of NAB clearly shows that it has been working on the instructions of the government and it is under government pressure and influence. As for as the NAB perspective is concerned, NAB Chairman Justice (r) Javed Iqbal has said during a meeting of the bureau’s executive committee that he would begin a comprehensive investigation on all aspects of the wheat and sugar scandals in the country in which billion of rupees were plundered through smuggling, price, gouging, and alleged subsidies. While opposition says that now NAB has suddenly come to know through revelations that they have to investigate first instead of arresting accused first. Furthermore, they have the view that this is because NAB Chairman knows if he goes against the government than it could through him out from his post within any delay. If the institutes such as NAB wants to run affairs as they are running than sorry to say that it will be very difficult to run a country and take it on the path of progress, stability, development, and justice. In this regard, the NAB including other institutes of the country has to follow the legal, just, and proper procedure concerning the cases of opposition as well as the cases against the ministers and other persons related to the present government.
While PM Imran Khan’s statements seem contradictory when it comes to the practicality and implementation. For instance, he has been repeatedly entertaining or making the people of Pakistan fool by saying that I will not spare anyone who is involved in corruption cases. He further explains that justice should be started from me and my ministers while when it comes to the practice than justice starts from the opposition and critique of PM Imran Khan’s government.
In this regard, most of the opposition has the view that PM Imran Khan is a selected PM of the country who is being brought by the ruling elite of the country which has a long record of ousting democratic governments through their active involvement in the politics of the country. They claim that present government is running under the influence and instructions of this ruling elite, for instance, PM Imran Khan Government is not pursuing the cases against the persons of this ruling elite that clearly shows that it is a bond between them. Furthermore, an article by Abdul Rehman published by “The Diplomat” on February 13, 2020, clearly showed that “how accountability became a tool for political oppression”.
Moreover, “Pakistan’s judiciary acknowledges the political victimization of the opposition, backed by the ruling elite”. Besides, Lahore High Court’s Justice, Justice Chaudhry Mushtaq Ahmed acknowledged that “political victimization in our country is an open secret”. In this regard, the Supreme Court of Pakistan has also criticized the present government for political victimization of opposition. In this regard, the criticism against the political victimization, undemocratic, unjust, and selective behaviour of present government throughout the world by various communities are building a negative image of the country. Therefore, PM Imran Khan has to seriously think over this issue as he could save his country and government from defamation and negative image.
*The writer is Ph.D. scholar in the Department of Defense and Strategic Studies, Quaid-i-Azam University Islamabad, Pakistan.