I had intended to compose this week’s piece on a subject that was far removed from what you are currently reading. The reason for this deviation was an incident that occurred within the premises of the National Assembly on Tuesday. The private guards providing security to the former Prime Minister, launched an unprovoked attack on a television cameraman covering Nawaz Sharif’s departure, after meeting his younger brother and Opposition Leader Shahbaz Sharif.

Television footage showed the unfortunate victim lying on the ground as one of the elder Sharif’s guard stood over him. Suddenly a second guard was seen running to the helplessly sprawled figure, leaping in the air and delivering a powerful kick on the upturned face of the cameraman before running out of the frame. While one of the assailants was arrested on the spot, the second attacker was reportedly whisked away from the scene of the crime by a former PML N minister.

The injured victim was evacuated to PIMS, where external and internal injuries to his mouth were stitched. The same assailants, who had perpetrated this brutal assault, also manhandled a second cameraman belonging to another private channel, but the man was lucky to escape lightly. An FIR has been lodged and both attackers are under custody of Islamabad police.

Mr. Nawaz Sharif sped away in his vehicle, not bothering to tarry and in the least commiserate with the victims of the attack. Delayed watered down apologies and condemnation of what happened were issued by Shahbaz Sharif and Maryam Aurangzeb and as if adding insult to injury the former PML N Information Minister offered to pay for damage to the camera and other equipment. The media and saner elements of the nation are now justifiably demanding that everyone directly or indirectly associated with the assault be given deterrent punishment to set an example.

While the entire incident, which was shown by almost all channels, was shocking in its brutality, it (more importantly) underscored, what sensible Pakistanis have all along been saying with regards to PML N character and culture, nurtured and abetted by its top leadership. Further proof of this was seen on Wednesday, when Mr. Sharif arrived in the Accountability Court for his ongoing trial. Once again the former Prime Minister’s security manhandled the journalists present at the spot, in a show of blatant unrepentance on the bizarre incident of the previous day.

As this piece goes to print, Mr. Nawaz Sharif is meeting the media community in a bid to mitigate the situation. What narrative is presented by PML N during this interaction is a foregone conclusion. In all probability the incident will be deemed as provoked, which will be another lie, added to the Party’s huge repository of untruths. There is a general consensus amongst media persons that Tuesday’s attack on the two cameramen cannot be diluted nor mitigated. Every eye in the media industry is now fixed on how the perpetrators of this crime are made to pay for what they did.

On the political front, the flurry of activity by PPP is giving rise to various theories. The leading notion circulating amongst ‘political pundits’ is the impending arrest of Mr. Asif Zardari and his close associates, in the mega money laundering scandal. Fuel is being lent to this notion by Mr. Zardari’s cryptic responses to journalists. If forecasts about the former President’s arrest and trial are indeed true then the contents of his public speeches could be a campaign to foment public outrage and unrest, in case the worst case scenario does materialize.

Some analysts are of the opinion that Mr. Zardari’s criticism against the Army leadership in public meetings is a replay of his two year old strategy. In my reckoning, if this was indeed the former President’s strategy then and is once again being applied in the current situation, it is likely to backfire, as it did in the previous case.

All said and done, the coming weeks are not likely to bring any comfort to PML N or PPP. Indicators are that judicial activism is likely to continue even after the current Chief Justice retires, as will aggressive accountability by NAB. This is what a vast majority of Pakistanis have always desired.


The writer is a freelance columnist.