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Faisal Vawda Boot Episode Exposes Shallowness Of Political Culture

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Faisal Vawda boot episode shows the shallowness of Pakistan’s political culture and media coverage of the political events— that they have so much time to spare to discuss such a triviality, writes Umer Farooq.

There is almost consensus in the media community that banning Kashif Abbasi’s show for the alleged crime of displaying a military boot and leaving the main culprit, the Federal Minister Faisal Vaida, who put the boot on the table in a the talk show, go unscathed is the most unfair thing to do on the part of PEMRA.

PERMA did just that—it banned Kashif Abbasi’s show ‘Off-the Record’ for two months and didn’t even mention Faisal Vawda in the notification that took the talk show off air.

However, under tremendous pressure from political and media circles the PM restricted his minister from appearing in any talk show for two week. He also sought explanation from the minister for his stunt.

The issues of displaying military boots in talk show have taken Pakistani media and political world by storm. There was not a single television channel, which was not discussing the issue of Federal Minister, Faisal Vaida stunt to display the military boots in a popular talk show in order to indicate to TV viewers that military dominates the political scene in Pakistan.

Vawda is a federal minister of a government, which claims to be presiding over smooth period in civil-military relations. Vawda’s stunt is surprising for many views and observers as it indicates that all is not well on the government’s sides as far as civil-military relations are concerned.

Political leaders across the political spectrum have condemned Vawda’s stunt and demanded action against him. Some of them even demanded that Faisal Vawda should be disqualified as a member of the parliament.

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On the other hand, the leading journalists and media persons have taken to the social media to condemn PEMRA for its one sides approaching in tackling the issue of display of military boots on the talk show by a federal minister.

Kashif Abbasi’s talk show, Off-the-Record, is considered one of the most popular talk show on Pakistani television screen and is seen as an objectively balanced prime time talk show in the country.

According to PEMRA, during the programme under discussion, one of the panelists (Vawda) “performed [a] very unethical act” while starting his arguments on the subject being discussed. “Subsequently, arguments made by Mr Vawda were not only extremely frivolous and derogatory but also an attempt to debase a state institution,” the notification dated Jan 15 read.

Ironically, Faisal Vaida’s stunt has gone unnoticed in the officialdom of Islamabad—as no government institution has taken notice of his stunt that the primary cause of insult to the national institution, as claimed by the PERMA.

Opposition parties have claimed that Faisal Vawda displayed the military boots as part of a pre-planned scheme to insult the institution of the army and this scheme has the approval of Prime Minister Imran Khan. So far the government has not offered any comment on this incident.

Political observers, however, are interpreting Vawda’s stunt as part of the unease in government’s ranks over the possible closeness between main opposition party, PMLN and the military top brass in the wake passage of Extension Bill by the parliament with the support of opposition parties.

This is reinforced by the tricky manner in which opposition leaders are tackling the situation, when they try to create the impression that there has emerged closeness between PMLN leaders and the military top brass.

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In this way, Faisal Vaida’s stunt has become the central plot around which the political drama is unfolding. This also shows the shallowness of Pakistan’s political culture and media coverage of the political events— that they have so much time to spare to discuss such a triviality.

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