History may repeat itself
Following the death of PTM’s senior member Arman Loni under mysterious circumstances at a sit-in in Loralai protests against the alleged murder are being restricted as PTM members and various activists are being arrested and detained. Yesterday a prominent academic Dr Ammar Ali Jan was arrested from his residence in Lahore during an early morning raid by Punjab police and was charged with ‘anti-state sloganeering’ – he was able to secure bail later in the day. Days earlier in Islamabad police arrested 17 members of the PTM out of whom they detained a prominent member of the party Gulalai Ismail for over 30 hours. The PM and human rights minister Shireen Mazari intervened and she was eventually freed without even being charged. Since the PTM came to prominence all attempts have been made to paint it as an anti-state threat that is part of some larger regional conspiracy. However the party remains steadfast in highlighting atrocities they have and continue to face in Waziristan while asking for their constitutional rights. These unlawful detentions are simply more of the same as they too are a gross violation of basic civil liberties.
What is worse is that most if not all of broadcast media refrains from reporting on these detentions or giving any proper coverage to the PTM for that matter unless they absolutely have to. The Supreme Court in its recent verdict warning state institutions not to work beyond their respective mandates clearly states that “every citizen and political party has the right to assemble and protest so long as it is peaceful and complies with the law imposing reasonable restrictions in the interest of public order”. It adds that “No one, including any government, department or intelligence agency can curtail the fundamental right of freedom of speech, expression and press beyond the parameters mentioned in Article 19 of the Constitution.”
Hopefully these words have not fallen on deaf ears because unabated these unnecessary aggressive tactics will create greater divisions and if history has taught us anything leave behind a mess of epic proportions.