The realm of political criticism in Pakistan is under serious threat as state’s oppressive tactics against dissenters are ramping up. Recently, several outspoken critics of the current regime have been haphazardly accused of serious crimes, creating an atmosphere of fear and intimidation. This article, Fear Tactics, published on Dawn, sheds light on these developments, illustrating how these vague accusations, although unlikely to stand under scrutiny, are being used as instruments of harassment rather than legitimate complaints.
The likes of Sabir Shakir, Moeed Pirzada, Shaheen Sehbai, Wajahat Saeed Khan, and others have found themselves in the crosshairs, accused of inciting individuals to mutiny, among other charges. This unwarranted attack on freedom of speech is a tell-tale sign of a state too wedded to its fear tactics to consider alternate solutions.
Moreover, it’s disconcerting to learn that these allegations may be used as a pretext to torment the families of these individuals, with the intention of ‘sending a message’. A rise in such ‘collective punishment’ amidst the crackdown on the PTI and its sympathisers is a worrisome trend, signalling an ever-tightening noose around the neck of political dissent in the country. The state’s focus appears to be on crippling the party rather than addressing the concerns raised by its critics.
Published in Dawn on June 16th, 2023, this article is a must-read for anyone interested in understanding the current state of affairs in Pakistan’s political landscape. Let’s stand up for the voices that dare to challenge the status quo, as their silencing would only lead to a more oppressive regime.