THE overall national reaction to the deplorable incident of heckling of Federal Minister Ahsan Iqbal by supporters of PTI has highlighted widespread concern over intolerance, indecency and violence in politics but unfortunately politicians seem to be least bothered to play their role in arresting the trend.
The incident once again showed that the nation was bitterly divided on political lines and even free movement of leaders and known workers would become difficult if no consensus was evolved to restrain workers and supporters.
The Bhera incident, on the one hand, served as a pointer of moral bankruptcy but on the other hand, it highlighted the graceful conduct shown by Ahsan Iqbal who is widely seen and hailed as a soft-spoken and cultured politician.
And it was this mature response of the Minister that the family involved in abusing him later called on him in Sialkot to offer an apology.
This sent the right message to the people but unfortunately PTI has chosen to politicize the issue further by claiming that the family was pressurized by the Government machinery for the apology, an allegation promptly and firmly rejected by the very family members themselves.
There was popular demand that PTI should shun the tendency of inciting workers to violence but regrettably the party is in no mood to respond to this saner demand as is evident from the remarks made by the party chief while addressing an election rally in Punjab.
In remarks that would be construed as further encouragement of the abusive behaviour in politics, Imran claimed that people of Pakistan will call the leaders of the incumbent government “thieves and traitors” wherever they see them.
Going a step further, he addressed Ahsan Iqbal and said “You say that Imran Khan has taught people to misbehave. Ahsan Iqbal, this isn’t indecency, this is the truth: you are a thief.
” These remarks confirm that the party has no regrets over what it taught to its workers and instead it wants them to persist with extremist behaviour, which will, ultimately, evoke reaction, making things murkier for all politicians.
PTI has been labelling the opposition leaders as ‘thieves and traitors’ but could not back its claims with solid evidence despite hectic efforts and propaganda during the last four years when it was effectively in power.
Stories of alleged corruption and misuse of power by PTI leaders are appearing on an almost daily basis and what if people start taking things in their own hands on the basis of propaganda and general perception?
The free for all situation could become ugly during campaigning for the next general election and, therefore, a national code of conduct must be evolved to shield national leaders against character assassination.