Ninety days on to the unrewarded ‘dharna’, there is a clear tinge of desperation to the speeches being delivered from the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) podium. Threat-laden accusations are being made against all and sundry. Some ears did cock up the other day when Sheikh Rashid warned of a bloodshed. But the people blew it off their palm given his habitual foul-mouthing. On Sunday evening, it was Imran Khan’s turn. Addressing a rally in Jhelum he charged that Nawaz Sharif government gave Rs 2.7 billion to the Intelligence Bureau to subvert his November 30 rally in Islamabad for onward transfer for ‘buying media personnel, columnists and analysts’. He also accused the government of enhancing the volume of advertisements ‘to buy favours of owners of media houses’. Elaborating his charge, the PTI chief claimed that ‘Rs 3 billion had been spent each month on newspaper ads and TV commercials since the beginning of the ‘Azadi march’.’ His assertion may be right, or wrong – but in the absence of detail as to who got how much, his claim carries no weight. His is a blanket accusation, tarring the entire journalist community and all media houses with the same brush. Not that there is no ‘lifafa’ journalist and that all media houses are committed to pursuing honest journalism. But the fact remains that a vast majority of journalists are committed to the pristine values of objective journalism irrespective of the nature of reaction and response. The amount Imran Khan has talked about is astronomical. We expect the PTI chief to come up with details, naming recipients and the amount pocketed by them. After all someone who passed on this figure of Rs 2.7 billion to Imran Khan must be having details. We will wait for his detailed response by November 30.
The bitter truth is that an average journalist is better educated than an average politician, and even when his living hovers around the fringes of poverty he stands by his commitment to objective journalism. He is hurt by Imran Khan’s take on journalists and their profession. Don’t the PTI chief and his colleagues realise that their dharna and rallies, as they play out in full public glare day after day, get more press than these deserve – much more than what Z A Bhutto’s anti-Ayub Khan movement got or Nawabzada Nasrullah Khan’s unending anti-establishment struggle was given. Frankly speaking, 90 days on, Imran is trapped in a cul de sac. His is a struggle for power, far removed from the utopia he so much claims to be working for. Consider, how undemocratic is the PTI resignation campaign – if they really wanted to resign they could have by now. Can they justify their absence from the National Assembly, to which they were sent by their constituencies, hoping they would represent them in the nation’s highest legislative forum? We are not here to question the efficacy of dharna politics; that is for others in the race for political power. But we do say that in today’s world there are no takers of bogus, unfounded claims made at sit-ins and public rallies. Is there anyone who is not aware of the fact that the one who threatens bloodshed and huge conflagration was once part of the same very political set-up that he now wants to bring down? And others in the line too were cogs of the machines they now want to dismantle. If you want others’ skeletons to come out and walk in public yours too would like to breathe in the fresh air. But leave the media alone or put your money where your mouth is and, produce evidence in support of your assertions.