ISLAMABAD: The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) on Sunday sprang into action and constituted a team to trace and arrest those running a negative social media campaign on the tragic incident of army helicopter crash amid flood relief operation in Balochistan, after Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said belittling and ridiculing the sacrifices of martyrs was horrifying.

“The social media campaign belittling & ridiculing the sacrifices of our martyrs was horrifying. This is what self-righteous political narratives do: they poison the minds of the youth & weaponise hate speech.

“Which way are we headed? The moment calls for a deep reflection,” PM Sharif wrote on his Twitter handle.

Also, the head of ruling coalition partner Chaudhry Shujaat came up with an appeal to politicians to put aside their political affairs and expediencies and foil the propaganda campaign against the armed forces, a day after a joint resolution was adopted by the Balochistan Assembly “saluting the brave senior officers of Pak-Army who sacrificed their lives to protect the lives of flood-stricken people of Lasbela”.

PM calls for reflection amid ‘horrific’ drive against martyrs

Earlier, the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), condemning the “highly unacceptable and regretful social media campaign”, stated it “caused deep anguish and distress among the families of martyrs and rank and file of the armed forces”.

On Sunday, the FIA constituted a four-member team and tasked it with pointing out, arresting and taking legal action against those involved in running a negative social media campaign on the tragic incident of helicopter crash.

The FIA team, to be headed by additional director general of cyber crime wing Mohammad Jaffar, will include director (cyber crime, north) Waqaruddin Saeed and additional director Imran Haider as its members, according to Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb.

After the chopper crash, a section of social media activists and certain political zealots launched an abhorrent and unacceptable online campaign to advance their personal and political malice, which drew a strong reaction from the people belonging to all walks of life, political leadership and the state institutions.

The ruling coalition at the Centre has been blaming the social media team of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf for launching the smear campaign on the behest of PTI chairman Imran Khan. The PTI leadership was also accused of not attending the funeral of Lt-Gen Sarfaraz Ali and other martyrs. However, the PTI leadership attempted to negate the impression as President Arif Alvi phoned the families of the martyrs while Mr Khan visited the residence of martyr, Lt-Gen Ali.

Meanwhile, the Balochistan Assembly in a joint condolence resolution moved by treasury and opposition members and adopted a day ago paid tribute to the six army officers who embraced martyrdom in helicopter crash in the Winder area of Lasbela district while supervising rescue and relief operations in the flood-stricken areas.

The joint resolution stated, “We salute these brave senior officers of Pak-Army who sacrificed their lives to protect the lives of flood stricken people of Lasbela.” It said their sacrifice would always be remembered as they did not bother about their lives while performing their duty and the entire nation was in shock on their shahadat.

“Whenever we need the help of the people, our brave army personnel and officers rush to provide help and comfort to the needy people,” the resolution said and expressed deepest grief and pain over the tragic incident that deprived the nation of the senior army officers.

The resolution was moved by Adviser to the Chief Minister on Home and Tribal Affairs Mir Ziaullah Langove on behalf of Chief Minister Mir Abdul Qudoos Bizenjo, Mohammad Khan Lehri, Mir Nasibullah Marri, Mohammad Khan Toor, Mobin Khilji, Nawabzada Gohram Bugti and Maulana Noorullah.

Provincial ministers Noor Mohammad Dummar and Syed Ehsan Shah, opposition leader Sikander Khan, Abdul Khaliq Hazara, lawmakers Mir Zahoor Ahmed Buledi, Khalil George Bhutto and other members paid tribute to the martyrs.

They recalled that Lt-Gen Ali, as IG Frontier Corps (South) and XII Corps Commander, played an important role in maintaining law and order in the province and guided the youths of Balochistan towards the right direction. His role in the progress and development of Balochistan was unforgettable, as he personally visited far-flung areas of the province to get himself aware about the issues being faced by the people, they added.

While strongly condemning the negative propaganda from some political circles and quarters, they said they were “agents of the enemies” of Pakistan. “If we have such elements, who are making baseless and negative propaganda, we do not need foreign enemies,” they pointed out.

They said the entire nation condemned this propaganda and standing with the families of martyrs.

Appeal to foil campaign

Meanwhile, PML-Q president and ex-premier Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain on Sunday urged politicians to fully support the armed forces, putting aside their political affairs and expediencies. “Politicians should keep [their] political issues and expediencies aside and foil the propaganda campaign against the armed forces fully supporting defenders of the country,” he said.

Everything could be tolerated except propaganda campaign against the armed forces, he said, adding that the whole nation shared the sorrow and grief of the families of the martyrs.

He said Pakistan Army helped and served the nation in every calamity, trouble and difficult times. “The armed forces have played an important role and laid down their lives in restoring peace and order and ending terrorism in the country and thus deserved respect and support.”

Amjad Mahmood in Lahore and Saleem Shahid in Quetta also contributed to this report

Published in Dawn, August 8th, 2022

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