The invitees list of the Asma Jahangir Conference which was held in Lahore over the weekend created a lot of noise. A diverse group of people were invited who have been portrayed in a villainous light by the incumbent government. One person who was invited to speak via video conference was the former prime minister Nawaz Sharif. This decision led to the withdrawal of Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry in protest. However, the former prime minister once again lost the chance of speaking when the internet connection was weakened so as to prevent the man from speaking at the conference.
This act was quite childish to put in simple words. PEMRA has already placed a ban on TV channels from airing Sharif’s speeches and now there is interference of the government in private conferences as well. If the government thinks that banning someone from speaking at such platforms will prevent anti-PTI views from forming, then it is highly mistaken as this very act is counter-intuitive and will lead to the development of anti-PTI views. A democracy cannot work well with so much censorship and control therefore, such petty acts must not be repeated if this government wants its dignity to remain intact. It is to be realised that banning and censorship never works as politics always finds a way. By doing so, the PTI cannot sway people towards itself and neither gain any support. In order for people to make informed decisions, it is important to hear all perspectives and such bans will only reduce PTI’s popularity. The message that is being given by such acts is only that of cowardice.
Other than this failure, the conference did manage to produce a comprehensive discussion on the judiciary. Many honorable judges were present to give their opinions. This topic has become more interesting after the former chief justice of the supreme court Saqib Nisar’s controversial voice recordings were leaked. The judiciary has had a controversial role in Pakistan since its inception, however, after many previous blunders one expects that the institution will learn and try to remain independent of politics and focus on its agenda. However, history has a way of repeating itself over and over again and so the courts in Pakistan may remain tied to dirty politics forever. The chief justice did try to salvage the situation by reassuring that the Supreme Court is an independent institution. However, there is a lot of introspection required in this institution as well as others and it will be better if both the government and the Supreme Court stop making blunders.