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Mir Shakilur Rehman’s Continued Detention Is Plain Media Harassment

The Jang group chief Mir Shakil ur Rehman is in the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) custody for more than 170 days. He was arrested without any case registered against him but on spurious reference based on a 35 years old real estate deal. NAB has termed the deal a connivance between the accused and the the government. Despite submitting all the estate-deal documents, according to the counsel of the accused, Mir Shakil is being denied bail. Even the countrywide protests against the unwarranted arrest of Mir Shakil ur Rehman could not help in getting him out of NAB custody as an interim relief.

Top legal experts have given their opinion that interim bail is the right of the accused. The superior courts have also observed that NAB cannot keep the accused in its custody for an unlimited period. Keeping an accused in custody is only allowed if the court believes that the accused would flee or not cooperate in the case or influence the case, if bailed out. In Mir Shakil ur Rehman’s case, all terms go in his favour.

The proceedings so far show that the made-up case is not the actual reason for his arrest. Then, what could be the possible reasons? The foremost factor that comes to mind is the bold and blunt news reporting, political and strategic analysis that expose the the follies of the government. The strategic decisions of the state institutions have often been in conflict with the public aspirations. Public sentiment and experts’ opinion on the strategic issues is considered seditious and anti-state, and a cause for severe action. That is why no one speaks up. Many prefer to remain silent or offer their opinion with many ifs and buts, where the actual argument gets lost.

In recent years, we have seen intolerance increasing in every segment of the society. Killings in the name of faith or abduction and killing of ‘anti-state’ elements are just a few examples. The long list of missing people is evidence of executive excesses. We have also seen the elimination of ‘strategic human assets’ ruthlessly. We have also seen distribution of ‘envelopes’ to disperse the Maulvi Khadim Hussain dharna (sit-in) at Faizabad blocking the entrance road to the federal capital.

Just a flash back to the emergence of Pakistan Tehreek e Insaf container politics supported by Tahir ul Qadri and others, an objective analysis would reveal the role of ‘Umpire’, explicitly and proudly shared by the PTI chief as cheering protestors remained around the container till the end of the anti-democracy drama against an elected government. The insiders know the actual reasons for the building up the ‘container drama’ and using the politically powerless but power-monger PTI chief who used to say ‘mian sab jaan deo, saadi waari aan deo’. For him, it was all about seeking a term as prime minister. Other reasons and resources given to him by the elements who disliked three-time Prime Minister Mian Nawaz Sharif saying ‘accountability for all’.

Strangely, only democratic forces, i.e., the politicians, are ‘corrupt’ in Pakistan. Rest are angels and innocent souls. The stories of mega corruption in three hierarchies are fake and unwarranted. Bureaucracy, the first hierarchy, elaborately knows how to indulge in corruption and embezzle money in the public sector development projects and misuse their powers and the annual budgets that are simply described as ‘white collar crimes’. I know many bureaucrats who have turned filthy rich in the last three decades from scratch. During their last leg in the service, they shifted their families to US, Canada, UK or to any EU country. The day they got their dues cleared from the government, they flew away. Their modus operandi is to unduly favour their lords quite transparently for their corrupt practices by providing the procedural cover. Their services are not free. They come with many additional bonuses. Often, bureaucracy leaks out the details of ‘cases’ against their political lords to hide their own corruption. So the malpractices accumulate against the politicians. The white colour crime masterminds check out unchecked and flee while politicians are nabbed and prosecuted even for the crimes they may not have committed. It does not necessarily mean that politicians in power are angels, and never commit anything wrong. My point of view is how the ‘babus’ contribute in discrediting the democratic forces.

Security forces are the second hierarchy – the most powerful, influential and resourceful. They have their own financial audit system that could not be subjected to public debate. They have their own accountability system. Sometimes we hear that someone is fired on the allegations of corruption, and that’s it. The government has to give budget, any stretch of piece of land, or any other facilitation they demand in the name of the country’s protection. Also, this hierarchy is the guardian of patriotism.Let’s not forget that many politicians were selected and groomed by this hierarchy and we were ruled for decades by dictators produced by it.

It is unfortunate that only politicians have to face NAB type accountability. The top ranked bureaucrats (civil or military) also leave the country, and enjoy the rest of their life on foreign lands. A couple of days back, well-known journalist Ahmed Noorani reported a story of foreign assets of a retired General’s family. Public cannot dare to ask about the assets of the retired Generals, only a strong parliament and a strong media could do it.

NAB continues to misuse powers to keep the accused unnecessarily in custody as the NAB had done with the PML-N leadership, and is blatantly doing with Mir Shakil ur Rehman.

Mir Shakil ur Rehman and others who are raising voice against the tyranny of a hybrid regime should be appreciated. The democratic forces need to be strong against those who want a weak media and lame opposition to hide the stories of mega corruption and other misdoings of those at the helm.

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