Duplicitous approach

Published November 5, 2021

WHEN it comes to individuals the state deems a nuisance, the double-dealing is shocking. Take the case of the Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan activists, who paralyse major roads, allegedly kill policemen, destroy public property and use choice words to hit out at the civil, military and judicial leadership.

Though the TLP has been banned, branded anti-state and accused of terrorism, even of links with RAW, the reverential tone and sentiment of forgiveness the government has adopted when dealing with them these days is in sharp contrast to the treatment meted out to others the state sees as anti-national.

Read more: The cost of surrendering to the TLP

The indictment this week in Karachi of MNA Ali Wazir by an anti-terrorism court — on the basis of a questionable case prepared by the police — is an example. Time and again, both the federal and provincial governments have shown they have little patience with Mr Wazir and others representing the Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement. Though restraint, middle paths and solutions have been painstakingly sought for the TLP, when it comes to the PTM, astoundingly it appears there is a no-tolerance policy.

Ali Wazir has been indicted for sedition, the go-to charge for those who question, criticise and challenge certain power quarters. Mr Wazir was detained in Peshawar in 2020 on the orders of the Sindh Police for an allegedly anti-state speech made in Karachi, and has remained in custody without bail. He, along with 10 others, have denied the charges. It is appalling enough that an MNA should have been repeatedly denied bail, but it is even more shameful that the lawmaker is being tried in an anti-terrorism court.

Read more: PTM not against any community, institution: Pashteen

The Sindh government’s role in this is unacceptable, and mirrors the approach taken by the KP government when it arrested PTM chief Manzoor Pashteen, as well as the federal government that has in the past arrested PTM supporters. As far as our rulers are concerned, the movement falls into the category of those anti-state groups our rulers do not negotiate, engage or make deals with but instead hound, arrest and punish.

Published in Dawn, November 5th, 2021

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