ISLAMABAD: The intriguing but matching timing of an attack on the most influential media group in Pakistan — the Jang/Geo Group — and the street agitation of the Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) and Pakistan Awami Tehrik (PAT) have raised many eyebrows here.
This situation raises the fundamental question of whether the stage is being set to hurt the democratic process and make the civilian leadership dance to the tune of the military establishment.
On the one hand the independent media is being muzzled through coercion, division and harassment; on the other people are being encouraged to come onto the streets to express their discontent with the system.
In a calculated fashion, the post-Hamid Mir attack scenario is being created in a manner where Geo and the Jang Group are portrayed as anti-army and anti-Pakistan. Such a manoeuvre would help discredit the most influential media house of the country, which is known for its contribution towards the rule of law, the upholding of the Constitution, democracy and an independent judiciary.
Damaging the Geo and Jang Group means hitting the freedom of the press in Pakistan and making it so vulnerable that the media cannot effectively serve as a protector of democracy, the independent judiciary and the rule of law. During recent weeks, certain players of the military establishment have already succeeded in badly dividing, like never before, the media of Pakistan.
With such serious divisions being created within the Pakistani media, political entities like the PTI, PML-Q and PAT etc. are already out to support the Pakistan Army and the ISI in what has been smartly created as a fight between the army and the Jang Group despite the latter’s repeated statements that it respects the institutions of the Pakistan Army and ISI.
Some proscribed organisations have also been pushed to hold demonstrations to get the Jang-Geo Group discredited.While such efforts are continuing to weaken the independent media in Pakistan through “tamed media” and “political allies”, the political situation of the country is also being vitiated through street agitations and protests. Though the announcement of the PTI and PAT protest campaigns from May 11, 2014 seem disconnected, not many believe this. Already discussions are under way if Imran and Qadri could join hands for the “reformation” of the system. The PML-Q is also expected to join in.
As against the serious doubts about the PAT linkages with the military establishment, Imran Khan’s PTI had better credentials till recently when it surprised all and sundry initially by reiterating the ISI’s serious charges against the Jang/Geo group. It furthered such doubts by levelling what could be termed as hilarious allegations of rigging on the Jang and Geo group and announcing to hold a rally on May 11 in Islamabad. May 11 is also the countrywide demonstration day for the PAT.
Leading political parties, including the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and Awami National Party (ANP), have already lashed out at the PTI for its call to protest against the alleged rigging at this point of time.
The PPP Senator Farhatullah Babar said Imran Khan’s move to resort to protest the alleged rigging was incomprehensible after one year of the elections. The PPP leader said it was his party’s formal stance that it will not become part of any protest rallies. Many in the PPP see it as an effort to derail the democratic system.
According to media reports, the PPP leaders held in-depth discussions on the protest politics of the PTI and ongoing rallies in the country aimed at destabilising the elected government. Opposition Leader in the National Assembly Syed Khursheed Shah was also quoted to have said in a press talk that those who were used to bring out sponsored rallies in the past are now active and it is not a good omen for the country. Shah added that these rallies are being sponsored and not being taken out on their own as those who are behind these rallies have their own agenda.
The ANP leader Mian Iftikhar Hussain said the PTI chief Imran Khan should not indulge in the politics of opportunism. The PML-N leader and Punjab Minister for Law Rana Sanaullah is quoted to have said that the PTI and PAT have planned to launch an agitation movement on ‘someone’s’ directives.