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What’s cooking?

There were four meetings of the troika — the Prime Minister, the COAS and the DG ISI — in about 40 days, raising antennas as the frequency of the GTs was a little too much to go unnoticed. Officially speaking, they were discussing the security situation, both internal and external. Nobody believed the official version, goes without saying. Had the official press release read — The PM briefed the two officers on the Pakistan-South Africa cricket series — that would have been more plausible.

The venue of the meetings has been the PM House lawns, which means the met office must have been consulted every time for the weather clearance. The selection of the venue certainly goes to show the troika’s love for nature, breeze and birds, besides the fact the outdoors is considered bugging free. What did they discuss in the four meetings however remains a mystery. Imran haters insist it was something similar to the message sent out to Nawaz Sharif by the then DG ISI, during the dharna days — and elicited the same response. If true, it’s good news that Khan saab has something in common with Mian saab. Conspiracy theories certainly do good business in the states that are not in the habit of sharing information with its citizens.

Media is not free in the country, Justice Faiz Esa has recently remarked during a hearing in the apex court. He in fact conducted a survey of sorts asking the court reporters present to raise their hands if they disagreed, but no hack moved a limb. The attorney General also kept his mum. Prime Minister Imran Khan, as we all know, has different views on the subject. “Media is more free in Pakistan than in the UK,” he said a few weeks ago.

Anyway, Mr Esa may conduct more such free of cost surveys to measure public opinion on the issues such as ‘are the courts free in the country?’ Or is the Parliament free in the country? Many however object that this is not the job of a judge to hold such opinion polls in the courtroom. Sharing the same bench with Justice Esa, Justice Maqbool Baqir agreed that ‘judges should ideally avoid such comments but what can be done when the country itself is not in an ideal situation.’

The country definitely is not in an ideal situation at least as for the government’s efforts regarding the method of voting in the upcoming Senate polls. The government wants an open and identifiable Senate ballot and has tried three routes so far to achieve it — the Supreme Court, constitutional amendment bill in parliament, and the presidential ordinance. The opposition is vehemently opposing the open vote, though it is convinced, and rightly so, that the result of the last Senate Chairman elections would have been different, had there been an open vote. Chairman Senate Sadiq Sanjrani, considered a product of the secret ballot, is now aggressively supporting the open vote. The change of heart on both sides is a pertinent specimen of the vagaries of realpolitik. “The opposition stands exposed by opposing an amendment that can ensure transparency in the Senate polls,” says Federal Information Minister Shibli Fraz. While a PML(N) former minister quips,“An anti-stray dog drive bill in a municipal corporation is given more thought and debate than the government wants to give to a constitutional amendment”.

Likewise, more ‘thought and time’ should also be given to the proceedings of the London court hearings in a defamation suit filed by PML (N) President Shehbaz Sharif against the UK paper Daily Mail and its reporter David Rose — before celebrating the legal victory. The UK court has accepted the case for hearing, finding the report libellous, if not corroborated with facts during the court proceedings.

Whatever the outcome of the case, Shehbaz Sharif deserves a pat on the back, simply for filing the defamation suit in a UK court against a UK paper, as there have been many a disparaging report in the UK papers against our politicians in the past but no one has ever moved the court. Has anyone? Ever? No!

Written By

The writer is a media veteran who has worked for various major print and electronic media outlets. @GhaznaviHammad

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