- Same for all?
The manner in which rights activist Gulalai Ismail has been treated raises a number of important questions that continue to go unanswered. And since it is for the government to make sure that the long arm of the law wraps itself around the less and more powerful alike, it must then explain why justice under its watch seems not as across-the-board as Imran Khan has claimed for more than two decades. Is the government incapable or, perhaps worse, is this not that high up on its agenda in the first leg of the new political cycle?
Apparently, around August, Gulalai was arrested and charged with “making anti-state comments and using inflammatory language”. Whether or not her position in PTM rallies crossed the mark between patriot and traitor is, rightly, for the courts to decide. But it turns out that her name was subsequently put on the exit control list (ECL) on the orders of the country’s premier intelligence agency; which is not exactly what you’d like circulating on the news when you’re out and about boasting about strict accountability, etc.
So, we must ask the same question again? What about those who, very recently, openly (and repeatedly) called for the assassination of the sitting chief justice of the Supreme Court, unconstitutional overthrow of the present government, and mutiny in the armed forces? Why has a government so obviously obsessed with accountability been so soft on people that not only took the law into their own hands but also went on rampage up and down the country? Since the government is not taking this matter forward at a satisfactory pace, it is natural for the rumour mill to invade the social sphere. Some say the government just does not have the power to take on extremists. Others think the two are actually hand in glove. Still nothing definitive from the government except the same rhetoric all over again. It is pretty clear, meantime, that those in charge have the will as well as power to apprehend the Gulalai Ismails of this land.