Putting Dawn journalist, Cyril Almeida on the ECL, by Nawaz Sharif, is an unfortunate and sad development of brow beating a newspaper and a journalist.
As I've stated earlier, Cyril is not known to make up things. One may disagree with his perspectives, as I often do, but to pressurize him by putting him on the ECL is as ham handed and stupid and idiotic an action as any, by whoever ordered it, military or civilian.
And if I were a betting man, I would bet my last Rs. that eventually the trail would lead to Nawaz Sharif's grubby paws all over it!
Dawn is an eminent paper. It is a patriotic paper. If it does have a position on the Army it doesn't mean it's anti state. I have defended and also criticised our Army, publicly and privately. This doesn't make one anti state or anti Army.
In the past, Dawn has been at the forefront in fighting tyranny, dictators and exposing corruption. Don't please fall into this trap of giving a dog a bad name and hanging him.Whatever one's political differences with anybody, objectivity is critical. As Michelle Obama said... When they go low! You go high!
I have written harshly against Cyril, even called him a hack, but to put him on ECL and to target Dawn is wrong!
Under what law or crime can one justify this action?
Hameed Haroon manages Dawn, administratively. He is Amber Saigol's cousin and Saeed Haroon's son and has very little leeway with the editorial functions of the newspaper.
Historically Dawn's editors and it's editorial policy have been fiercely independent from any form of management control. Totally and completely. Even Hameed is unable to influence the Editor. Very different from papers like The News and others.
However I could be wrong about the Dawn that I know or knew. Perhaps it's editorial independence has also fallen foul to commercial and political interests. If so, then a very sad day for the media as its finest now bites the dust!
Dawn's editorial policy has mostly been, liberal, left of centre and fairly secular. Internally, theyve actively supported democratic processes and rule of law and externally, peace with India based on equal terms and state to state engagement and not through the use of Kashmiri Jihadi outfits.
This in principle is also the view of all sane Pakistanis as well as the Army. I know the last from personal insight.
However, one doesn't slay a dragon in one day and in one swoop. Especially when the institutions in Pakistan are so weak and there is a silent battle between a corrupt Nawaz Sharif administration and an Army, fully committed to fighting terrorism and indirectly trying to eliminate corruption and misgovernance.
The Army has just come off fighting a decade long battle for Pakistan's survival with the TTP and literally saved the country from total and complete anarchy. So its image is high and its Chief, perhaps the most popular person in the country. So this was a perfect opportunity by Nawaz Sharif to hit out, cunningly. Which he did through Cyril and Dawn.
One may not agree with many of the articles in Dawn, or calling Kashmiri jihadis, terrorists etc, but by no stretch of imagination is the newspaper anti Pakistan. I have serious issues with what many of their journalists write, including some who I know personally. But let's not get into a Joe McArthy type"witch hunt" and label and destroy.
Dissent is good. It is the very essence of a progressive society. It keeps people in power in check. It stops fascism from taking over.
Otherwise power centers will steam roll over human rights in the name of God, King and Country. Let this not happen again in Pakistan. Nawaz Sharif has deliberately created this to bring a bad name to the Army. I have no doubt. Cyril was a stupid unwitting and willing fool in this. I personally don't like him or his pretentious writing. But ECL. A HUGE NO!
This is an evil plot by PM NS to further damage and sully the reputation of the Army by creating this impression of the Army behind these strong arm fascist tactics. He actually may have even told them about this action and getting the Army's nod, thus cleverly embroiling them as well.
A most dangerous game by NS to bait the Army and put them on the back foot with Cyril, a stupid pawn in this Machiavellian ploy by NS.
These action can possibly have very serious and dangerous portents. I think PM Nawaz may have overstepped a "bridge too far" in his attempt to sully the Army's image by showing them soft pedalling against the Kashmir Jihadist outfits.
The Army was and is fully committed to defang all types of non state actors. It is well known that on many occasions, the Army high command presented detailed plans on addressing the issue of the Jihadis in Punjab. And every single time, both the the PM and his brother the CM of Punjab told the Army to "lay off" and that the civilian law enforcement apparatus would the deal with the issue.
Thats why I say, that the rose tinted prisms through which Cyril and others see the current scenarios are outdated. They still live in the "cold war" era!
So one cannot be a party to this witch hunt and fascist behaviour of putting Cyril on the ECL! For two reasons. One, it reeks of fascism and two, it's a dirty trick to malign the Army.
If anyone. It's NS and SS who should be on the damn ECL!
And that perhaps is the task that the Supreme Court should focus on!