- Appeasing non-state actors
The PTI has long practiced the politics of accusations without proof for short-term political gains. Their policy is to dodge the court hearings whenever summoned to present the evidence. The practice continues even after the party has gained power. This was visible from Shahryar Afridi ’s speech in Senate on Thursday.
Afridi has given a clean chit to the TLP leadership and its lawless followers. The PTI minister conveniently forgets that the TLP had given the call for protests against the Supreme Court’s verdict in Aasia Bibi case after sit-ins spread over several days where followers were charged up through provocative speeches. It is funny that Afridi should instead put the blame for damaging the public and private property on the workers of the opposition parties which had condemned the acts and assured the government of full support. This was acknowledged even by PTI’s information minister who had thanked the PML-N, PPP and other opposition parties for their maturity and cooperation with the government on the issue of TLP’s violence.
Interestingly Afridi has accepted the TLP’s claim on its face value that those shown in pictures dragging people out of vehicles and putting buses, cars, and motorbikes on fire were not their sympathisers. He went a step ahead by exonerating their treasonous pronouncements and promising not to use stick against them but embrace and engage them in dialogue. This amounts to placating the extremists.
In his October 31 speech Imran Khan had strongly condemned the language used by the TLP leadership in reaction to the verdict against Aasia Bibi. “Which government can function when people say kill the judges, do away with the army?” he had thundered. Afridi is now seeking the friendship of these very elements. Is this yet another about-turn by the party, without any qualm of conscience?
It is a highly shortsighted policy to support those who challenge the writ of the state. A week-kneed government failed to fulfill its duty to stop the mayhem. Then it volunteered to pay billions from the state exchequer to undo the damage done by the TLP’s extremists and is now defending the elements who abused the courts and tried to spread disaffection in the army.