Ever heard of a policy initiative, anywhere in the democratic world, that was forced down everybody’s throat by a presidential ordinance but was immediately rejected by all segments of society and taken to court when the superior courts were already deliberating its legality and weren’t very happy even with the watered-down version? You almost feel sorry for the PTI spokespersons as they try to defend the PECA amendment bill just because their boss, the selected PM, uttered another one of those strange decrees in another one of those moments of frustration that are increasing by the day.
Just for the record, though, let’s not forget that when the PML-N floated PECA in its original, snitised form, Imran Khan attacked it in too many ways to be mentioned in a single oped column. From “fascist tactics” that will never succeed, to reducing FIA to running after tweets, to calling attempts to protect state institutions from senseless online ridicule “shameful”, the PM really went to town on PECA when Nawaz Sharif was PM. But now the shoe is on the other foot and somebody is desperate to abuse careful legislation of the past to protect himself from all sorts of criticism; which, by the way, is coming from all sides now.
If media bodies, human rights outfits, bar councils and common people think the amendments are ridiculous, what does the PTI expect the courts to say about them? All that will become clear soon enough, of course, but who’s to explain the behaviour of senior government ministers when they cross the line. For example, didn’t Fawad Chaudhary allege at a press conference, where everything is on-the-record, that Shahbaz Sharif and Asif Zardari were meeting to decide how much who will pay to buy MNAs and MPAs for the no-confidence motion?
He doesn’t have a shred of evidence to back this claim, of course, or he would’ve presented it. And since what he said was textbook “fake news”, shouldn’t the PTI’s ideals be applied to the information minister and FIA sent to his house to arrest him without a warrant, rough him up, and jail him for five years? This is yet another one of those moments where this particular government doesn’t even understand that in trying to hurt others it is actually shooting itself in the foot also. For now, after the PECA amendment, what’s going to become of the main job of some unelected special advisors very close to Imran Khan? Whose only purpose in life is to drag every formal conversation they are part of to the gutter? And their main arsenal is blatant lies, so what they are harping about will also make their lives, and also their livelihoods, somewhat more difficult.
What Imran Khan is doing right now is employing the go-to routine for a desperate man about to lose his grip on power. He knew nobody would believe the nonsense about controlling “fake news” and all that, yet he still pushed the president to promulgate the ordinance. He also knew that people would remember what he said about such things when he was in opposition, but he didn’t care. All this just to silence anybody that dares raise a voice against what he’s done to this country.
This was not the only ordinance that came last week, of course. And there could be no stronger display of a government losing its grip over things than the amendments to the Election Act. It seems the PTI thinks it’s teaching the election commission a lesson for calling out its senior leaders for breaking the law and campaigning in different elections. But this clever trick to get legal cover for using state machinery to its advantage at the election will also backfire, just like PECA.
Day by day, the man who accused others of fascism is being exposed as the fascist himself. And he’s willing to do anything, go to any length, go back on his own promises and deceive the people to hang on to power.
Good luck with that.