Why Was Irfan Siddiqui Arrested?
From what has happened in the last few days, one conclusion can safely be made that if Irfan Siddiqui wasn’t a 78-year-old man the chances are he would have remained behind the bars with the government defending its action like the previous arrests.
Likewise, the another conclusion can be drawn from the statement of the anti-narcotics minister who had stated that Rana Sanaullah was not apprehended three weeks before his actual arrest because he was with his family at that time. It means you won’t be arrested if you are carrying drugs with your family. In other words, if you are a drug-dealer and want to be a success, always smuggle contrabands with your family present. You must never travel without them because as soon as you do, the authorities will be ready for you with their gear – so much for the contrived rectitude by the minister!
The magistrate, who remanded Irfan Siddiqui in police custody for 14 days, apparently redeemed herself by setting him free the next day but she did that only when it was high time. The magistrate with due respect did not judge when the time was ripe; when Irfan Siddiqui was produced before her in handcuffs. She was pinned down on both occasions by the high-ups – when sending him on remand as well as when she set him free. She is not to be blamed though; anyone in her position would have done the same thing. No one wants to lose a job or one’s prestige which often gets into question for heroic actions.
The government seems to have learned a lesson that whenever they have done any act without much thought and planning, the benefit has so far gone to the enemy. As a consequence of ill-planning, they then try to make a situation look good by spluttering endlessly and usually end up making a situation look even worse.
It seems to be the final attempt to obliterate all distinction between an accused and a convicted individual. The way Irfan Siddiqui has narrated his story – the description of barracks, the behaviour of police and jail authorities, the handcuffs – it seems that it is exactly what the government had wanted to show to people in the words of Nawaz Sharif’s own aide as to how people live in jail.
The PM in his address in the US said that the first thing he would do on his return to Pakistan would be to deprive Nawaz Sharif of the air conditioner.
Everything that looks bad on the face of it, the government seems to be completely unaware of it. The price of dollar against rupee went up but the honest PM was unaware of it. Zartaj Gul blatantly did everything she could to have her sister appointed as a director in NACTA but the PM was unaware of it. The Punjab government increased the salaries of its minister and entitled the chief minister to keep a house for life but the PM was unaware of it. The funniest Part is that when the PM did become aware of all these and other such similar incidences, he did nothing, absolutely nothing.
You do not believe that? The price of dollar keeps going up and up even though the worthy PM is aware of it. Shabnam Gul is still in NACTA and the Punjab government was not directed to rescind the addition in its perks.
In short, the government’s actions since its inception do substantiate the idea that things don’t just happen in this government, as all the events are interconnected.
The government is trying its best to get away with this. In order to absolve itself completely of the responsibility, it is trying to pin it on bureaucracy. Would any bureaucrat have really taken the risk to go so much out of the way to invite itself trouble in the present-day toxic scenario when many of their peers are behind bars in NAB cases?
Moreover, the government seems to have killed two birds with one stone via this melodrama. The outcry regarding media censorship and the fact that many journalists have lost their jobs is an issue which was being highlighted every now and then. The sympathy professed by the government representatives against its own action is being used to indicate that in reality there is no media censorship, which of course, is not true. “If there was any media censorship, would we be talking so openly like this?” exclaimed the government representatives and their aides on contracts. “Would we have been criticising the arrest of Irfan Siddiqui this audaciously?”
Anyway, from now on it is likely that you would see Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and others in handcuffs. The new narrative injected in the atmosphere is that if teachers and intellectuals can be handcuffed then why can’t those accused of corruption and drugs smuggling? This stunt was just aimed at mentally preparing people for upcoming segments.
Take the example of Asia Bibi’s acquittal. Irrespective of my personal opinion as to her sinfulness or innocence in this matter, it is now clear that Asia Bibi was not acquitted by the Supreme Court because she was innocent nor was she kept behind bars all these years because she was guilty. In fact, her innocence was not even a consideration; it never was. If it were, her case would have been concluded many years ago either in form of a conviction or acquittal.
She was verily acquitted in 2018 so that our PM could later on his visit to the US assure the authorities there that Pakistan is a free country where minorities are ensured equal rights. As the PM himself clarified this in an interview in the US – in response to a question regarding the minorities – that it was in fact due to his government that Asia Bibi’s case was heard in the first place and then she was acquitted which shows that our justice system protects them.
The actual reason for which Irfan Siddiqui was arrested and then set free will come to light like many other bizarre incidents this government has advertently or inadvertently produced. Just wait a little.
The author is a barrister practicing law in Peshawar and Islamabad. He graduated from Cardiff University. The author can be reached at [email protected].
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