The recent press conference of DG ISPR with the surprising presence of DG ISI Gen Nadeem Anjum has come as an utter shock to mainstream media and social media. People have raised questions as to why it was necessary for this political chaos that DG ISI himself had to come to a press conference. Is the establishment really panicking? Is Imran Khan’s narrative really pushing down the establishment’s throat?
On the other hand, it is the first time that a serving DG ISI has ever appeared in public and has openly answered hard, uncensored questions on live broadcasts by the country’s top journalists. As per the welfare of democracy, this is a rather good sign. The rhetoric that Generals who were thought to be untouchable, unaccountable and unanswerable to anyone or any institution has proven to be a rather dubious one.
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War of narratives
For the last 5 months, Imran Khan and his party after being thrown out of the government have adopted a hardline narrative against the institutions of Pakistan. The unregulated social media in Pakistan have been a keen tool for spreading anti-army narratives across the masses. We have also seen social media campaigns against state institutions that are directly targeting the institution heads. PTI’s social media cell along with anti-state elements such as PTM and exiled fugitives are trying to defame the army by projecting it as rogue and traitor.
The political situation of the country has been extremely tense and chaotic in these past few months. In addition to the economic crisis that has struck the whole nation with inflation. In this critical time, the masses have no other option but to choose and accept a political narrative that satisfies the country’s deteriorating political and economic situation, despite how ridiculous, dubious and contradictory that narrative is.
The rousing stories of backdoor talks between GHQ and important political figures have always been the highlights of mainstream media. Imran Khan in these past five months has denied any backdoor talks with the powerful quarters and has strictly instructed senior members not to have any talks without his permission. The masses thought it was the truth. Imran Khan, while adopting an anti-establishment narrative, is not ready to accept any deal with the establishment.
This narrative of PTI was being propagated by senior PTI members until tomorrow after DG ISPR’s press conference in which DG ISI Gen Nadeem Anjum revealed how PTI held talks with the establishment via backdoor at night and criticized it in broad daylight. Now PTI members are defending these backdoor talks without any hesitation or indignity.
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Another narrative that is being pushed is, there was no illegitimate demand which was asked from the establishment in these backdoor meetings. The question one may ask is, what does PTI want? The PTI wants the establishment to support them rather than any other political party. Is this demand not indulging the army in politics? Where does this in any sense a constitutional and democratic demand let alone an illegitimate one?
The blame game continues
A foreign-sponsored regime change operation propaganda was not enough let alone the killing of Arshad Sharif is also being blamed on the state institutions. There was no doubt that Arshad Sharif recently became a very harsh critic of the establishment after the fall of Imran Khan’s government but thinking about a conspiracy that includes the role establishment is an absolute below-the-belt propaganda with no truth. DG ISI’s statement in the press conference is also worth noting, If the army really wanted to hurt Arshad Sharif, there was no way he could have ever left the country.
In the past journalists and politicians such as Imran Riaz, Shahbaz Gill, Jameel Farooqi and Azam Swati all were apprehended as per rule of law and legitimate procedures by other state agencies but again the establishment was blamed for these events without any proof. Accusations such as sexual torture were made on mainstream and social media yet no scientific or medical evidence was presented before the courts.
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Journalists aligned with a particular political party have left no opportunity to make Arshad Sharif’s death a mysterious assassination, which is far from reality. Irresponsible and accusive tweets are being circulated on social media platforms not respecting the mourning period of Arshad Sharif’s death and not realizing the sensitivity of the event. Let us not jump to extreme conclusions and let the ongoing investigation figure out the facts of this horrendous event.
The writer has a master’s degree in Mass Communication from the National University of Modern Languages, Islamabad who often writes on geopolitics, international developments, and strategic affairs with a special focus on Af-Pak affairs, Asia, and the Middle East.
The views expressed in the article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.