- Nothing changes
Wasn’t it Imran Khan that always got so upset at PML-N and PPP’s tradition of ‘politicising the police’? The reasoning was simple and quite convincing. When the government’s bureaucratic machinery becomes a family tool of those in power, there’s no way of expecting it to function in the interest of the state. And weren’t we reminded, again and again, that things would be markedly different whenever PTI came to power? Yet over the last half-year as PTI has gone back on one too many of its campaign promises, this one too seems destined for the dustbin, though in a far more novel way than others.
It turns out that Punjab police has been given a free hand to crack down on what they consider objectionable social media posts. Worryingly, officers at the ASI level are apparently deciding what content is offensive, and against the interests of Pakistan, and proceeding to carry out arrests. And, sure enough, the content they find most objectionable concerns people’s comments that make the prime minister, and other senior minister, appear in bad light. So, all of a sudden, you have ASI level police officers silencing online dissent against the new government.
It seems that once in power and not doing a particularly good job of it in the first innings, the government just did not like what it saw online in terms of how people felt about its performance. And instead of trying to improve its own functioning, the PTI government simply decided to take away people’s right to expression in the wider interest of the state, just like every other non-representative and dictatorial government has done in the past. PTI is reminded that it will, once again, have to go to the people for votes once this cycle is over. The way it is going about things, it should not be surprised at the end of its five years if social media, which once propelled it to power, does not provide the same buoyancy anymore.