UNSAFE IN EXILE
Posted on January 26th, 2019

ALI SUKHANVER

The Washington Post recently published an article titled, ‘I am a journalist who fled Pakistan, but I no longer feel safe in exile’ written by Mr. Taha Siddiqui, a journalist from Pakistan. Mr. Siddiqui claims that last year in January he survived an abduction and possible assassination attempt by armed men when he was on his way to the Islamabad airport in Pakistan.

He believes the attack was orchestrated by the Pakistani army, which had been threatening him for years over his journalistic work on ‘military abuses’ in Pakistan. After that ‘assault’ he somehow managed to move to France with his wife and five-year-old son. He is still there living a life of self-imposed exile. In his article he said, The U.S. intelligence officials told me they believe that, after Jamal Khashoggi’s killing, repressive regimes such as the one in Pakistan have been emboldened to silence critics, not only at home but also abroad.” He further said, Now, after the warning I received, I once again fear for my life. Every time I leave my apartment, enter public places or simply walk on the streets in Paris, I am paranoid about being followed. Every time I stand on the subway platform, I fear that someone may push me on the tracks at the last moment.”

Whatever Mr. Siddiqui said in his write-up is no doubt very horrible if true and very pathetic if not true; pathetic in a sense that blaming one’s own motherland and putting allegations on the security forces of one’s own country is usually a very uncommon rather rare practice. But unfortunately in Pakistan such practitioners are not very uncommon. I don’t remember the name of the writer but I remember someone had once said in a write up; just start shouting against the army, against the ISI or against the religious traditions if you wish to be blessed with a ‘long-term visa’ of US, UK, France or of other prosperous countries of the same category.

Spreading hatred against the security institutions of Pakistan has ever been a very favourite activity for all those who dream of a shattered and scattered Pakistan. Such ‘well-wishers’ of Pakistan are in abundance everywhere; inside Pakistan as well as outside Pakistan. If Pakistan didn’t have a strong army and if the ISI were professionally not so competent these ‘friends of Pakistan’ would have succeeded long ago but very interesting is the fact that spite of their continuous failure, these friends of Pakistan are never willing to surrender. Just a week back, the Economist said in a report on Pakistan, Since the founding of Pakistan in 1947, the army has not just defended state ideology but defined it, in two destructive ways.

The country exists to safeguard Islam, not a tolerant, prosperous citizenry. And the army, believing the country to be surrounded by enemies, promotes a doctrine of persecution and paranoia.” The paper further said, The paranoid doctrine helps the armed forces commandeer resources. More money goes to them than on development. Worse, it has bred a habit of geopolitical blackmail: help us financially or we might add to your perils in a very dangerous part of the world. This is at the root of Pakistan’s addiction to aid, despite its prickly nationalism.” In short the Economist did all its best to fix and frame the Pakistan Army behind all problems faced by Pakistan at present.

What is false if the Pakistan Army says that Pakistan is surrounded by enemies; certainly the experts at The Economist could be asked this question. And what is wrong if Pakistan warns the world around of the dangers and perils the world will have to face in case Pakistan becomes financially weak. Certainly this all is simply a part of that blame-game which is being played since long to disrepute and to defame Pakistan.

The forces hostile to Pakistan have all rights to use all tools against Pakistan as all is fair in love and war; but what about those who claim to be Pakistanis but always stand with the enemies of Pakistan. Such unlucky ones enjoy all possible benefits of being a citizen of Pakistan but whenever they get a chance of defaming Pakistan, they waste not even a single moment. Same is the case with Taha Siddiqui who admits in his write-up, I left Pakistan, where I had a stable job, a comfortable home and a strong journalism network.” Unfortunately today he is known to the world as a person dissatisfied with his own motherland.

There is another very important question; why do we need a license to shout against the Pakistan Army and the Inter Services Intelligence in the name of freedom of expression? Do the countries like the US, UK and France also allow every Tom Dick and Harry to defame their army and the intelligence agencies? Freedom and liberty of expression is important no doubt but in the name of such liberty, no country could allow anyone to vomit venom against those who sacrifice their lives for the safety and security of the country. The fact of the matter is that Pakistan is in dire need of reshaping the rules and regulations regarding the so-called freedom of expression.

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