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PR Short Notes


Photo Source: Dawn

Pakistan Reader# 572, 21 March 2023

Continuing Political Instability



Persistent political turmoil and irrevocable damages

Femy Francis

On 20 March, PM Shehbaz Sharif chaired a meeting with ministers and defence high commands to discuss the political chaos Pakistan is ailing from owing to PTI’s ongoing protests. They expressed an unfavourable opinion against the party and termed them as “a gang of miscreants trained by banned organisations rather than a political party.” They mutually agreed to impose strict actions against the protestors and the PTI leaders. Additionally, they vowed to proceed in accordance with the law to reprimand them, stating that they brutally assaulted the police personnel and vandalised government vehicles using petrol bombs. The meeting also agreed to take stern actions against the “smear campaigns” on state institutions saying, “The meeting strongly condemned attacks on police and Rangers, who were obeying court orders, and called it an enmity against the state. “They further warned against the citizen's participation in these smear campaigns and that they would halt the “special treatment” Imran Khan was receiving, as there are no “two standards of justice.”

Shehbaz Sharif condemned the protests proceedings in the streets of London, where the PTI supporters gathered outside the PML-N Quaid Nawaz Sharif residence shouting pro-Imran Khan slogans. He urged Pakistanis to raise their voice against the “foreign-funded” campaign and advised that they should not join the conspiracy. There was contention from PPP against the proposal to ban PTI by PDM. Where PPP stated that they should not be “blackmailed” and not to be afraid of such statements. Furthermore, The intelligence gathering agencies probe against the foreign smear campaign allegedly found support from Indian lobbies. They said that PTI’s anti-army campaign provided the material for the Indian media.
 
Imran Khan on the threat to his life
On 20 March, Imran Khan wrote urging the Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial to order a probe owing to threats to his life. The letter requested the court to allow Imran Khan to attend trials through a video link. He reiterated the “seriousness” of the security breach citing, the raid at his Zaman Park residence during his absence when only his wife and a few house helpers were present. Furthermore, he informed the CJP that while reaching the IHC for trial they were trapped from all sides, aiming to block them from entering the judicial complex. He also accused the government of forming hurdles to delay elections despite the allocation of dates. Imran Khan addressed his party via video link stating that a plan was hatched to assassinate him in the judicial complex and that he is collecting evidence to submit to UNHRC and European Union.
 
Punjab police to get “free hand” probe
On 20 March, the Punjab caretaker Chi­ef Minister Mohsin Naqvi granted a “free hand” to Punjab police detaining PTI workers. This comes after the raids conducted at the residence of PTI leaders and party workers. Individuals who supported the PTI workers with logistical aid of food and water would face similar probes. He said, “The writ of the state and the government will be established at any cost. If this time anyone challenges the writ of the government and attacks the police it will be dealt with an iron hand.” Additionally, there would be a formation of JIT who will probe PTI for engaging in “pitched battles” with the police under “acts of terrorism against the Punjab police” says CM Naqvi.
 
A critique by Dawn and The News International
On 21 March, an editorial in Dawn reports that Pakistan is tearing itself apart and that someone somewhere would make a blunder which would instigate irreversible damage. The current political scenario shows the lack of responsibility among both government and the PTI party. The editorial states that PML-N has bigger issues to worry about and should demonstrate restraint rather than provoke a turf war that could internalise violence among young men and women. Additionally, Imran Khan’s hysteria over threats to his life is a common situation and should not be used to instigate his supporters to involve themselves in violent clashes. The two parties should reconsider their priorities if not there would not be a nation left to rule.
 
On 21 March, an editorial in The News International reports that with two days left for Ramazan, the political turmoil has not boiled down. After the Zaman Park raids, he urged the urgency of the threat to his life. PTI doesn't seem to back down as they blame the government likewise the government has decided to fiercely crackdown on PTI workers and leaders. The editorial accused PTI of engaging in a purely political fight where now Imran blames the government for causing division between the army and their party. The issue is that if no party backs down and the conflict persists then this could become something far more damaging.
 
References
(Syed Irfan Raza, “High-level deliberations equate PTI with ‘gang of miscreants’,” Dawn, 21 March 2023)
(Ali Raza & Muhammad Anis & Muhammad Saleh Zaafir, “Six-hour long PDM meeting: PM orders nailing anti-COAS campaigners,” The News International, 21 March 2023)
(Faizan Bangash & Nauman Wahab & News Desk,“ Imran writes to CJP about threats to life,” The News International, 21 March 2023 )
(Zulqernain Tahir,“ Police get ‘free hand’Dawn, 21 March 2023”)
(“Country on edge,” Dawn, 21 March 2023)
(“Messier and messier, ” The News International, 21 March 2023)

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