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Tuesday May 28, 2024

Institutional harmony

Now the ISPR has come out with a definitive statement, saying that the Pakistan Army and the Punjab Police have decided to jointly investigate the incident

By Editorial Board
April 14, 2024
Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) logo. — Facebook/@OfficialDGISPR/File
Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) logo. — Facebook/@OfficialDGISPR/File

The video images were not good. The commentary accompanying them even worse. Not only has the Bahawalnagar ‘incident’ left two institutions with the unenviable task of investigating their own but has also signified how quickly something can go viral in a negative way. Put very succinctly, the Eid break saw some video clips go viral on social media – purportedly showing a clash between army and police personnel, with men in army uniforms shown beating up police personnel in Bahawalnagar. Needless to say – without much or any media contextualization and it being the Eid break – the commentary that went with the clips tended to be divisive. Now the ISPR has come out with a definitive statement, saying that the Pakistan Army and the Punjab Police have decided to jointly investigate the incident. According to the ISPR, the incident was promptly addressed and resolved through the collaborative efforts of military and police authorities and yet "certain factions with vested motives started fanning vitriolic propaganda on social media to create divisions between state institutions and government departments." Both institutions have decided to "ensure a fair and deliberate inquiry, and to determine responsibility for violation of laws and misuse of authority".

The Bahawalnagar incident had obviously sparked concern about the necessary harmony between state institutions. Amidst the uproar, though, it is essential to acknowledge the proactive response undertaken by the Pakistan Army and the Punjab Police in swiftly addressing the situation and initiating a joint investigation. It is important to underscore the necessity of a fair and comprehensive inquiry to ascertain the veracity of the events and hold accountable those responsible for any transgressions of the law. This is why the decision to collaborate on an investigation demonstrates a commitment to transparency, accountability, and the preservation of institutional integrity. In a climate where misinformation proliferates rapidly on social media platforms, it is imperative to uphold the truth and ensure that justice prevails. The proliferation of divisive propaganda aimed at sowing seeds of discord between state institutions and government departments underscores the need for vigilance against misinformation and manipulation.

While social media can serve as a powerful tool for disseminating information and fostering dialogue, it also poses significant challenges in discerning truth from falsehood. In an era where perceptions can be easily manipulated, it is incumbent upon citizens to scrutinize information responsibly and refrain from succumbing to sensationalism. Beyond the immediate concerns surrounding the Bahawalnagar incident, this episode underscores broader issues on governance, accountability, and rule of law. Let the state and its governance arms not forget the importance of robust oversight mechanisms and the need for continuous efforts to strengthen institutions and uphold democratic values. Can we hope that moving forward, all stakeholders remain committed to the principles of transparency, accountability, and rule of law? This is why it is a good sign that both institutions have tried to foster trust, unity, and confidence. Let it also be said that, regardless of whatever the original transgression may be, we must ensure that due process is always adhered to – whether it be a regular civilian, an armed forces person, a policeman, or a politician. By upholding integrity and adhering to due process, all institutions can emerge stronger and more resilient. It is only through collaborative efforts, grounded in the principles of transparency and accountability, that we can address the devastating challenges we face – including the near-breakdown of due process, justice, and governance.