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Blackout Everywhere

Muhammad Arif
Muhammad Arif: Chairman Centre of Advisory Services for Islamic Banking and Finance (CAIF), Former Head of FSCD SBP, Former Head of Research ArifHabib Investments and Member IFSB Task Force for development of Islamic Money Market, Former Member of Access to Justice Fund Supreme Court of Pakistan.

Now Azadi March of Moulana Fazlur Rehman supported by almost all opposition parties is on its way. The situation would become clear on 1st, second or third November 2019.

What can be its impacts is another debate but this has raised questions about government to kill all kind of information’s and opponents through its policy of spreading black out everywhere and putting all vocal opponents in jail.

According to police, Mufti Kifayatullah and outspoken leader of JUI was arrested because he was collecting chanda, holding corner meetings and inciting the public to take part in the Azadi March. And to the worst Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam – Fazl (JUI-F) senator and past Minster Maulana Hafiz Hamdullah has lost his Pakistani citizenship after National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) has declared him a ‘confirmed alien’. However The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on 29th Oct has now suspended the National Database and Registration Authority’s (Nadra) decision to cancel the citizenship of Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) leader Hafiz Hamdullah.

Further the electronic media watchdog has asked the broadcasters not to use their shows to provide any opportunity to the PTI opponents or to arrange programs to deliberate on their point of views.

Opposition parties are accusing from the day one of Prime Minister Imran Khan of intimidating broadcasters into a blackout on television coverage of his critics, after several TV channels were briefly taken off-air and opposition protests and news conferences passed unreported.

The prime minister have always denied censoring the media and described such accusations as “a joke”.

Now in another move Prime Minister (PM) Imran Khan on 28th Oct has said that Pakistan is indebted because of two National Reconciliation Ordinances (NROs) that were given in the past. However, I will not grant NRO to anyone until I am alive. Addressing the groundbreaking ceremony of Baba Guru Nanak University in Nankana Sahib, the premier said all this
On (JUI-F) anti-government Azadi March, PM Imran said that the opposition parties are afraid of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) spectacular performance and asked, “Why marchers are coming to federal capital for my resignation?” Talking about the health of former PM Nawaz Sharif, he said that no one can give guarantee of any other human being as death and life are under Almighty’s control. Best medical treatment is being given to PML-N supremo at Lahore’s Services Hospital, where he was admitted due to drop in his platelet count, he stated.

From a Prime Minister such a statement looks not affordable and every one in support of Imran Khan would advise him to refrain from giving such statements in future. When everything is in control of Almighty, than to talk about NRO and Nawaz Sharif’s health is totally irrelevant.

Now in case of directives by Pemra, not only the media persons and journalists’ bodies but also a number of cabinet members have criticized the directive issued by Pemra to restrict the appearance of television anchors in current affairs programs.

However after criticism from all sides, the Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Information, Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan has said that the regulator had issued the directive in the light of a court decision. Not on this, but on another statement Firdous Ashiq Awan has been issued a notice of contempt of Court by Islamabad High Court.

Media managers are reluctant to comment publicly but statements from industry bodies have complained about pressure on journalists and their employers.

News groups have also been alarmed by proposals to establish special courts to hear cases relating to the media.

The All Pakistan Newspapers Society (APNS) has described the proposal as institutionalized “arm-twisting”.

PTI earlier this month has posted a series of tweets warning media houses and journalists that they should not “end up propagating (the) enemy’s stance” in criticizing the government.

Pakistan’s press has had a turbulent relationship with successive governments and the powerful military over many years. Some in the media complained of a severe crackdown in the run-up to the 2018 general election that saw PTI sweep to power.

The military and government have denied state agencies have been involved in any of those incidents. They also reject opposition accusations that the army colluded in bringing the PTI to power.

So the situation is moving towards worst as at the end of second decade of 21st century it is not possible to continue with information blackouts. See the fresh cases of Lebanon, Chile, Spain, France, Iraq, Guinea and many other countries where public is on the road and governments are crumbling.

PTI should also look towards its recent decision to withdraw NIC condition for purchasers and after this traders have called of their strikes.

There is a difference between government and opposition but unfortunately PTI has still not come out of its opposition mindset. If they want to be in the government, than they have to get rid of this mindset and to consider all including opposition as patriotic Pakistanis and to accept their demands on merit.


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