Pakistan Army is averse to criticism. Are critics traitors? Every ruling party has an opposition party to keep it in check for successful
governance. Pakistan Army does not like to be checked. In recent months, particularly in times of crisis (during Pakistan General Elections 2018), the demand for information was often seen to be a sticking point between the media and the Pakistan Army. The
responsibility for facilitating the education of both the media and the military lied with ISPR however, it was seen that ISPR is working as an advertising and propaganda agency for the deep state. Instead of being an ethical advocate for the media, helping
to understand the need to embrace transparency it was seen throttling media on various occasions.
Recently, GulBukari a Pakistani journalist who has openly criticised the military was briefly kidnapped by masked men in Lahore. She had been on
her way to work when she was stopped late at night in the city’s army-controlled cantonment area. A colleague said men in “army uniforms” were present at the abduction, along with others in plainclothes.
Pakistan’s most famous TV journalist, Hamid Mir, took six bullets and remains off the air and under guard after returning from treatment abroad. And the country’s
most famous TV host, Shaista Wahdi, had to flee the country overnight after she was accused of having shown disrespect towards the prophet’s family by playing a wedding song in her morning TV show.
Siddiqui a well-known journalist whose work has appeared in the New York Times, the Guardian and won the Albert Londres Prix award, the French equivalent of the Pulitzer Prize, too faced the ire of the military. In his own country, he
is known for critical comments on social media about the powerful military. For the same, he has faced life-threatening consequences. While Mr. Siddiqui has dodged death and remains physically unhurt, others have not been as lucky.
Last year an Islamabad-based reporter of the Jang group of newspapers, Ahmad Noorani, was severely beaten by six men wielding iron knuckles, chains, and knives.
His investigations into the recent Panama Papers case hearings unearthed embarrassing revelations about the role of the military that led to what some saw as the “forced” disqualification of then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
Waqass Goraya, a liberal Pakistani activist who went missing in 2017 said a “government institution” with links to the military held him and tortured him. Mr. Goraya
believes he was detained because he ran a satirical Facebook page critical of the influence of the Pakistani military in the country’s political system. The page had also criticised military policy in Pakistan’s restive Balochistan province.
Baluchistan has been under the virtual control of the military for almost 15 years. Journalists in the province are reluctant to speak
on the record. In private conversations, they say they are caught in an impossible dilemma. “If we report human rights violations by the military or the religious groups, we are harassed and our government-sponsored advertisements are blocked to choke
us financially. If we don’t, the separatists threaten us.”
Pakistan does not belong to any general, or any bureaucrat, or a capitalist or a feudal lord; it belongs to its people. Crossing the mandate in the greed of power will cost
heavily in times to come. General Ghafoor can be seen slowly paving way for his premiership in the near future, but he must tread carefully, mindful of being axed midway by his very own, as is the norm in Pakistan.
27 Aug 18/Monday. Written by Afsana