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Nawaz’s new found love for ‘freedom of speech’

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News Analysis |

Former Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif, a day after his indictment in three graft references, has come out in support of PML-N’s social media team who were attacking the Supreme court for disqualifying Nawaz Sharif. While giving a statement in London, the ousted former Prime Minister said “forcible censorship of opposing ideas” is condemnable and termed it as an attack on freedom of speech.

Nawaz made these assertions in response to arrests of PML-N social media activists by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA). Acting on an FIR lodged by a resident of Islamabad’s Dhoke Gujjar area, Ibrar Ahmed, the FIA carried out an inquiry, the completion of which revealed that Anwar Aadil and Wajid Rasul Malik, residents of Railway Carriage Factory Colony and Al-Noor Colony, Rawalpindi, respectively had vilified the judges of the Supreme Court and members of the Armed forces.

Nawaz Sharif has joined the Twitterati who have got the hashtag “Bring back atanoli” rolling.  Is it out of sheer concern for freedom of speech or that of losing his cyber warriors who are fighting the battle for his political life?

Both were arrested and moved to an undisclosed location. The FIA found out that both had uploaded material and content on their Twitter accounts, which was hateful towards the judiciary and the Army. Nawaz, who is believed to be gearing up for a real showdown with the military and the judiciary in a bid to extricate himself from the tightened legal noose, said that the interior ministry must take note of what he called “abduction” and harassment” of his supporters.

Read more: Nawaz Sharif Corruption Trial: Should there be a live transmission from…

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The 67-year old said that it is the responsibility of the government to ensure and protect freedom of speech and expression. He iterated that all citizens must have a right to express their ideas and opinions provided they are not against the laws and values of the country.

Analysts also assert that the fear-mongering of the “threat from Rawalpindi” has got something to do with Maryam Nawaz’s highly-touted Strategic Media Communication Cell.

The arrested duo, acted much in-line with the Twitter activities of a clique of journalists and activists famous for vilifying the judiciary and the military. Some of them despite being bonafide employees of prestigious media houses often resort to using fake news to target all those whom they feel are behind the disqualification of Nawaz Sharif.

Observers have identified the common targets of their vitriolic tweets and posts: Imran Khan, Army, and the judiciary. Analysts also assert that the fear-mongering of the “threat from Rawalpindi” has got something to do with Maryam Nawaz’s highly-touted Strategic Media Communication Cell.

Nawaz, who is believed to be gearing up for a real showdown with the military and the judiciary in a bid to extricate himself from the tightened legal noose, said that the interior ministry must take note of what he called “abduction”.

Here it is noteworthy to mention that earlier this week 5 members of the SMCC were arrested on charges of spreading fake news. Observers believe that the SMCC is being effectively used to drive a wedge between the public and the two institutions of the state. This, they believe is an integral component of the PML-N’s new political strategy to wriggle out of the NAB corruption references against them.

Read more: Nawaz Sharif and the Supreme Court’s decision

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Nawaz Sharif has joined the Twitterati who have got the hashtag “Bring back atanoli” rolling.  Is it out of sheer concern for freedom of speech or that of losing his cyber warriors who are fighting the battle for his political life? Cynicism prevails over the former Prime minister’s new found concern for freedom of the press; given he did not say anything when earlier this year 5 men went missing who supposedly ran blasphemous pages. At the time he mentioned they should be  “strictly punished.”

A controversial cybercrime bill, Prevention of Electronic Crimes Bill (PECB), was passed last year, against opposition party and civil society concerns, which gave the government sweeping powers to act against social media users, Sharif was the prime minister and his son-in-law was the chairperson of the National Assembly Standing Committee on Information Technology that pushed it through.


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