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EDITORIAL: The United Nation’s (UN’s) concern for Imran Khan comes from the terrorism charges slapped on him, which stems from the peculiar nature of our laws that allows the system to equate criticism, beyond a point, of important persons and, by extension, institutions with spreading terror. Yet it doesn’t signify anything too extraordinary beyond a little more bad press for the country.

The global body, just like a number of international rights outfits, extended the same customary courtesy when PTI (Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf) was on an arresting binge and the opposition of the time made much hue and cry about it. Washington, too, has said once again that it doesn’t take sides in internal matters and pressed for the rule of law to prevail, with the usual politically correct rhetoric, of course.

And none of this would have happened if some of our laws didn’t really cry out to be exploited for political purposes; like the one that’s landed Imran in the dock for allegedly indulging in terrorism; not that what he said was not reprehensible.

But you can count on PTI to use it to full advantage. It’s already pretty frustrated with the way things are going, even though it continues to command a remarkable following, and it spilled out in the now viral tweet by former information minister Fawad Chaudhary, criticising Punjab and KP (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa) governments for enjoying the perks of office and not answer the call of real duty by coming to the aid of Imran Khan and Shahbaz Gill.

What he meant was that they weren’t paying the federal government back in kind, by arresting its people in those provinces and sending a loud message of their own. And he made sure not to hide his feelings about the fact that a good dozen PML-N (Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz) leaders managed to flee to Islamabad even though non-bailable warrants were out for them.

And that explains the desperation that led to orders to the KP government to book PDM (Pakistan Democratic Movement) leaders for “fanning hate” against institutions. As if feeling burdened by events that took place years ago, just when the going was getting tough for the former ruling party, will sell at face value to everybody. PTI, clearly, has no qualms about rocking the whole boat just to have its way.

Yet the government isn’t making things easier for anybody either. Its threats of arresting Imran Khan have led not just to more political turmoil, but also more uncertainty in the markets, with everything from investments to bond yields going haywire.

Even more importantly, all this has snatched the limelight so strongly that you could go through most of the news cycle without even knowing that many parts of the country are being rocked by the worst floods in ages.

People and their livestock are dying and disappearing and crops are being destroyed on an epic scale, foretelling a shocking rise in last-minute, emergency imports just when the current account is experiencing a do-or-die moment.

Yet the morning papers tell of charges after charges and cases after cases. The latest bit of confusion comes from the Punjab government’s spokespersons saying that Fawad’s irritation was his own personal opinion, not the party’s; only days after the former information minister said categorically on a TV show that he and Farrukh Habib gave the party’s official stance on everything. That was when he was trying to distance himself from Shahbaz Gill’s very controversial (not so) smart idea.

And that’s the latest layer in the web our politicians are always weaving around us, making sure that we’re gripped with their affairs more than ours. That’s why it’s their tit-for-tat that is all the rage even as the people struggle through one of their worst years in the glorious republic’s 75-year history.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022


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