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Editorial | Why Was Sanaullah Arrested Before Completion Of Investigation?

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The observer might well see a forced game of musical chairs being played by the opposition – behind bars. One opposition leader manages to find their way through the maze of lawfare unleashed by the government, only for another to be dragged in. Even as Rana Sanaullah manages to secure bail on the narcotics-related charges against him, Ahsan Iqbal is embroiled in accusations revolving around the Narowal Sports City project.

It goes without saying that the manner of Rana Sanaullah’s arrest and his bail now – cast serious doubts on the ongoing process which the government places in the broad rubric of “accountability”. Consider: officials from the Anti Narcotics Force (ANF) had requested the court for more time to conduct investigations in the case, “apprehend facilitators” and so on. Bail had been refused to Rana Sanaullah earlier on such grounds. Now, after several months in captivity, the public has no option but to ask – alongside the unfazed wife of Rana Sanaullah – as to why this opposition figure was put through the whole process.

It is obvious that there is a strong correlation between how outspoken an opposition leader is how much of an existential threat they are seen as by the government – and consequently how likely they are to face the courts in one context or another. It will be impossible for the ruling party and its multitude of conflicting, blustering mouthpieces to convince the public that this is merely a strong correlation, and not a direct causal link.

In other words, there is a popular impression that the government has been using politically motivated cases against opposition leaders who make it nervous. And this impression is not going anywhere any time soon – especially when the proceedings are as transparently malicious and hamfisted as they are.

Rana Sanaullah’s fiery commentary and rhetoric are likely to make it all worse for those in power now.

The people of Pakistan were asked by the then interior minister Shehryar Afridi to have faith in the proceedings against Rana Sanaullah. His argument was that he, Afridi, had to give up his life to God one day. And therefore he could not be involved in baseless accusations against Sanaullah. It would appear now that such assurances had a legal shelf life of some six months.

In much the same way, the overall narrative of the government against the opposition is unlikely to last very long.

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Naya Daur