Parties ought to behave

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REPEATED warnings by the quarters concerned that national institutions must not be dragged into political controversies fell on deaf ears and instead the tendency of maligning and targeting institutions gained momentum, forcing the law to take its own course on Tuesday with the Islamabad police arresting PTI leader Shahbaz Gill for inciting the public against state institutions.

According to Interior Minister, Rana Sanaullah, the comments of Mr. Gill that formed the basis of his detention were a part of the planned conspiracy to create division within the Army.

In a related development, Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) Tuesday warned TV channels and issued directives to prevent them from spreading propaganda, misinformation and disinformation against state institutions.

PTI has condemned the arrest and its Chairman Imran Khan has described the development as ‘abduction’, a charge ridiculed by the Interior Minister who pointed out that Gill has not been arrested on fake recovery of heroin but serious charges of sedition and that the Government would provide necessary evidence before the court.

However, there can be no justification at all for what Shahbaz Gill stated live on a television channel and his utterances assumed special significance as he is acting as ‘Chief of Staff’ to the Party Chairman.

There is no doubt that the leadership of different parties including those in the coalition government has been criticizing the Establishment directly or indirectly but it was for the first time that a spokesperson of a party (Gill) incited junior ranks not to obey orders of the seniors, which amounted to crossing the red line.

Shahbaz Gill, like Faisal Vawda, is known for care-free and abusive language against state institutions, political opponents and media-persons.

A few days back, after assumption of power by PTI in Punjab, Gill hurled naked threats on the top police official who was so frustrated that he formally approached the Federal Government to withdraw him from the province.

PTI Government was ousted in a legitimate constitutional move and the Party is fully entitled to make its own political moves to safeguard its interests but within the bounds of the Constitution and law of the land.

However, a cursory glance over media coverage since then would make it clear that the Party spared none of the institutions and levelled baseless allegations against national institutions including Pakistan Army, Judiciary and the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).

The Party was already in deep trouble due to findings of the ECP in foreign funding case and social media campaign launched after the Lasbela tragedy but it continued with its undue pressure tactics as borne out by a highly controversial statement of Shahbaz Gill.

Imran Khan is, no doubt, one of the popular leaders and PTI one of the major parties with roots in all provinces of the country.

However, there is a general impression that the Party is spoiling its prospects for the future due to its short-sighted policy of confrontation with national institutions and scathing criticism and abusive language against other political parties and leaders.

Right from the allegation of foreign-sponsored conspiracy to topple the PTI Government, PTI faulted on numerous occasions transmitting an unfortunate impression that it cares much more about Party interests than the overall interest of the country.

Latest example is the American drone strike that killed Al-Qaeda leader Aiyman al-Zawahiri in Kabul.

According to world media reports including those from Kabul the drone strike originating in one of the Central Asian States but senior leaders of PTI repeatedly issued statements to drag Pakistan into the controversy and one can imagine what could be the consequences of such kind of propaganda.

There is an urgent need on the part of the central leadership of the party to review their existing policies and approach and align their strategy with the overall interests of the country.

There are bright prospects for PTI to make a comeback in future elections but the party is misreading its popularity to attack state institutions and treat other parties and leaders in an arrogant manner.

If the Establishment has decided to stay neutral, there is absolutely no justification to ridicule its apolitical posture and instead political parties should learn to stay in the political arena without any clutches.

Other major parties have learnt a lot during their struggle and it is time for the PTI to carry out self-assessment on the basis of ground realities.

 

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