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Media Watch: Imran Khan’s “no security detail”

There is always a war of attrition between politicians and their security detail. The latter want too much, the former want as little as possible.

That is the truth. It might not be true of the bureaucracy, the judiciary, the military brass, the business community and, it might not be true of all politicians. But it is still true in general.

Barring some politicians in some constituencies, politicians want to play it down and cut down on anything that curtails their direct contact with the people. Years upon years of anti-politician bias by the media might give the general public the other impression, but that is how this dynamic is.

The PTI, one of the world’s few anti-politician political parties, has also been stoking this particular fire. There is too much VIP protocol for the elected politicians, its leader Imran Khan has been saying again and again.

Now, the shoe is on the other foot and he has to start bearing some of the criticism of this security detail. One could argue that a mature media should not begrudge politician’s security detail, given how this is a dangerous country, but it could also be argued that only the security detail of those politicians who have been decrying the same should be done. A fair point.

However, the PTI has taken a rather bizarre approach to this problem, and sections within the news media seem to be playing along. Instead of maybe admitting that they were wrong on this issue or, if admitting a mistake was too tall an order, keeping quiet about it and bearing the criticism, they are going about saying that the party chairman is not taking security detail, despite that clearly not being the case.

We saw this in his recent visit to Peshawar, where he was to appear in front of NAB in the helicopter misuse case. Social media was flooded with a video of his, inside his SUV, where it was claimed that he was moving about without security protocol. Even though it was clear from that same video that there were pilot police vehicles ahead of the car, clearing out the path. Video recorded by media outlets from outside the vehicle, of course, gave an even clearer picture of the detail.

The Tube

Media Watch column is meant to offer commentary on the affairs of the media.

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