Violence on media
When the PTI and PAT decided to storm the President’s House it was inevitable there would be a police response. What was not expected – and should not be tolerated – was that some journalists were also targeted by the police. As the situation rapidly spiralled out of control, the police must have realised that their actions would be beamed on live television. Instead of explaining their actions, they in some cases attacked the messenger. They, at times, seemed to be operating independent of government control and instruction. The chain of command seems to have either broken down or didn’t exist in the first place and the SSP Islamabad left his post without explaining where the instructions for the use of violence came from. His replacement Asmatullah Junejo apologised for the attacks and said the guilty parties would be held accountable but whether he follows through on this remains to be seen. Saad Rafique let loose his fury on the police and apologised for the attacks on the media but this may not be enough. No matter who may actually be in charge, it is the government that needs to take control of the situation.
The PTI, as always, is trying to claim the high moral ground by blaming the police for all the violence. It has no standing to do so. As it unleashed its ‘tigers and leopards’, they attacked the offices of the Jang Group and threatened its employees. Geo reporter Iffat Rizvi also faced a PTI mob and had to be rescued by army personnel. Earlier in the week, PTI protesters had gone after Geo reporters in separate incidents and menacingly surrounded an Aaj TV DSNG van. Its activists were seen brutally beating a helpless newsman from another channel. The blame for this violence lies solely with Imran Khan. He has repeatedly lashed out at Geo, absurdly holding it responsible for alleged rigging. His proof? That Geo ran a victory speech given by Nawaz Sharif. Imran seems to believe that covering the news is the same as creating the news and his invective has made everyone associated with the Jang Group the target of mob violence. He has feverishly accused the government of buying off journalists and even entire media groups. Imran loves affixing responsibility to others for all the ills of the world. For inciting violence against Geo and others, Imran should finally hold himself to account.