The unexpected arrest of PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry in the early hours of Wednesday in Lahore triggered widespread condemnation from journalist circles, who clamoured for the government to release him.
Soon after the news of Chaudhry’s arrest made the rounds on social media, a number of senior journalists, political analysts and civil society members took to Twitter to voice their concern over the detention of the former information minister and called upon the government to shun political escalation.
Senior journalist Mazhar Abbas questioned the rationale behind Chaudhry’s arrest, asking: “What have they achieved so far in the cases of Azam Swati, Shahbaz Gill or in the cases against journalists?”
He opined that it had historically been proven that such actions eventually backfired on the government.
Tabadlab chief executive and political commentator Mosharraf Zaidi recalled that Chaudhry had “celebrated numerous senseless arrests and jailings of his political opponents” when in power, however, he called out the government for its latest move, urging “stop this madness”.
It was shameful then and now, said Zaidi, adding the PTI leader must be released immediately. He also called for elections to be held in the country.
Journalist Amber Rahim Shamsi also called out the government for filing a sedition charge against Chaudhry, saying his statement targeting the ECP members did not warrant such a heinous charge.
“When you’re throwing every law on the books, it smells of political revenge and overreach,” Shamsi said in a tweet.
Political analyst Michael Kugelman was also critical of the government’s move to book the PTI leader under different charges.
“If Islamabad fought inflation and debt with as much rigour as it is fighting the opposition, it would have vanquished the economic crisis many moons ago,” Kugelman tweeted.
Former PPP senator Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar said that the ECP has become so “touchy” that it is filing police complaints over politicians’ statements. “Such actions will damage what is left of its reputation.”
He asked that when it has powers of contempt, “why get him arrested by the police”? “Is the election commission now a sensitive institution?”
Journalist Cyril Almedia also put up his concern in a tweet, demanding the release of the detained PTI leader.
Senior journalist Mubashir Zaidi was also among those calling for the release of PTI’s Chaudhry.
“Why do illegal arrests occur through vehicles without number plates?” Zaidi asked sarcastically.
Journalist Mohammad Mallick asked why governments make “stupid repetitive mistakes” instead of learning from each other’s follies. “The needless filmi style arrest of Fawad Chaudhry being the latest episode. What does the government gain except notoriety? Childish intimidation attempt that will surely backfire,” he said on Twitter.