Ironically enough Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) despite being a political party is not willing to take any criticism. The arrest of Seraiki poet and teacher, Mehboob Tabish, may not be blamed on the party. But the fact that Punjab Chief Minister’s (CM) cousin, SP Fazal Buzdar, arrested him shows that even bureaucracy is relying on authoritarianism under this government. What’s the crime of Mr Tabish? He dared to criticise Punjab’s Chief Minister (CM) Usman Buzdar and other feudal lords for being the reason for the plight and deprivation of the Seraiki region.

Are the authorities not aware of the reasons that play a significant role in keeping the Seraiki region underdeveloped? Does any mention of these reasons constitute a crime? The unequal development in the cities of Punjab is visible with the naked eye. Does the government keen on even suppressing people for raising their legitimate concerns? The arrest of the poet tells us so.

The unfortunate incident tells us that the ruling party has probably forgotten the value of intellectual freedoms, especially that of freedom of expression. Is there no one amongst the party members who can tell the government that freedom of speech is essential to the development of any human society? Freedom to obtain and distribute information, freedom for open-minded and unfearing debate and freedom for officialdom and prejudices are prerequisites for any society’s progress. Pakistan is no exception to this. Any step taken to curtail these freedoms tells us that the rulers of the country want to rule it according to medieval norms. The only way out before Buzdar to silence his critics is by improving his performance. That is the only way out for him. Reliance on state machinery for silencing those who criticise the government for its inefficiencies and incompetence is not acceptable in any democratic setup. Moreover, the CM Punjab himself should take action against his apostle, SP Fazal. Failing to do so will show another weakness of his governance: reliance on Stalinist methods to silence critics. Considering the latest story in the news that many in the party cadre are not happy with the performance of CM Punjab, the question worth asking is will Buzdar detain them too?

Nevertheless, the above mentioned trinity that is necessary for freedom of expression is the only guarantee against an infection of people by mass myths, which, in the hands of treacherous hypocrites and demagogues, can be transformed into bloody dictatorships and totalitarian regimes. Freedom of expression is the only guarantee of the feasibility of a scientific, democratic approach to politics, economics and culture.