ONE wonders whether all pretence of the state as a democracy has been whittled down to a point where it has simply faded away. In a democracy, where the rule of law should reign supreme come what may, the ongoing rearrests of PTI members certainly point to such a situation.
The most recent episode involving four women activists being rearrested immediately after their release from Kot Lakhpat jail demands not only scrutiny but also introspection. This is but a snapshot of a far larger narrative.
Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi has been arrested 12 times since the May 9 protests that led to the crackdown on the party. The septuagenarian’s continuous entanglements with the law, most recently in a graft case involving alleged land value manipulation, underscore the intense pressures that PTI leaders face.
Last Saturday, an anti-terrorism court granted bail to several members of the party, including women activists, in connection with the Jinnah House attack case. The rearrest of these women, right outside jail, despite the court having ordered their release, raises many questions regarding the motive behind such a move.
While a police official cites another case pertaining to the May 9 attacks as the cause behind the fresh arrest, one cannot help but ask: is it a genuine pursuit of justice or does this smack of political vendetta?
Such events only serve to undermine the public’s trust in the criminal justice system, fostering perceptions of misuse of power. For the sake of democracy, transparency, and justice, the authorities must clarify their stance on what appear to be, since May, arbitrary arrests.
The nation deserves to know why the court’s orders seem to only be momentary effective, with individuals granted bail finding themselves in custody almost immediately. The way forward is clear: an unbiased, thorough investigation into the cases, while ensuring that the rights of PTI members are upheld.
Published in Dawn, September 27th, 2023