A black chapter, indeed



THE Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) issued a strong worded statement on Wednesday, condemning the attacks on army installations in the wake of arrest of PTI Chairman Imran. Whilst declaring that the day of attacks will always be remembered as a black chapter, it said that those wearing a political cloak have done what enemies could not do in 75 years, all in the lust for power.

Indeed what happened on 9th May is really unfortunate and something never seen and witnessed before. Imran Khan is the not the first political leader or a former Prime Minister who has been arrested but the despicable events that followed his arrests are unprecedented. The way public and private properties were vandalized by a group of miscreants and attacks were carried on the properties and installations of defence forces, especially the ransacking of Lahore Corps Commander’s residence is something that could not be imagined. This is the reason all and sundry are condemning the violent incidents. It is really important to note that the army acted with utmost restraint, otherwise if it would have reacted immediately on the attack on the residence of Corps Commander, the situation would have gone far worse and precarious, and those plotting to pitching the people and the army against the each other would have achieved their sordid designs. But as also stated very rightly by the ISPR, the Army’s mature response thwarted this conspiracy. We really commend the Army for exercising extreme patience and tolerance in the larger national interest. The audio leaks that surfaced on Wednesday unambiguously reveal that the attack on the residence of Corps Commander Lahore was carried out under a well thought out plan and that the PTI leaders themselves were on board. Those behind this plot as well as those physically participated in this despicable act must not be spared under any circumstances. Some other important buildings such as that of historic building of Radio Pakistan in Peshawar and that of Associated Press of Pakistan (APP) have also been vandalized. Whilst the federal cabinet has decided deployment of Army in Islamabad, Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in view of the current law and order situation, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif while addressing the nation vowed to treat rioters with iron hands. Certainly nobody can be allowed to take law into their hands and if these miscreants are spared today and law did not take its course, then it would become difficult to avoid recurrence of such horrific incidents in future. The country’s defence forces which have always been at the forefront to cope with the internal and external challenges, are our red line and a violent group cannot be allowed to target them under any circumstances. This message should go loud and clear by taking action against the rioters in accordance with the law. Also those who are spitting venom against the state institution on the social media must also be taken to task as their trolling also leads to provocation of sentiments.

The PM in his address very rightly pointed out that the real role and responsibility of the political leadership was not to let party workers trespass legal boundaries – something which we saw from the top PPP leadership after the martyrdom of Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto when the sentiments were also high but the very words of Pakistan Khappay (We Want Pakistan) by former President Asif Ali Zardari put water on the fire. Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) is one of the mainstream parties and it should also have demonstrated the same level maturity and sagacity. However, it is really unfortunate to see that following the arrest of Imran Khan, the party’s second tier leadership failed to control their handful of workers in different cities. Protest is their democratic right but it was the responsibility of the senior party leadership to guide and advise their workers to remain peaceful and refrain from acts that are contrary to law. If the PTI leadership had acted in a timely manner, the violent acts that took place would not have brought embarrassment to the country. Anyway, it is still time for the PTI leadership to learn from its follies and correct its course. Nobody is above the law. This is also what the PTI Chairman himself advocates. If there are corruption cases against Imran Khan then he should face them as was done by some other political leaders in the past and even during Khan’s time in office. If there will be nothing in the cases and his hands are clean, then he will also come out of current difficult times sooner or later.