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July 14, 2018

Contradictory caretaking


July 14, 2018

ISLAMABAD: He is not that Shaukat Javed I knew back in the eighties during my early years of professional career.

At the time, Capt. (R) Shaukat Javed was posted as the Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) of the federal capital, and I used to have interaction with him as reporter. There were ups and downs in our relationship as these should be between a police official and a journalist.

However, I was shocked to listen to his remarks to TV channels on Thursday night about the detentions and arrests of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) activists in Lahore and across Punjab. At the very outset, he claimed that action has been taken only against anti-social elements and terrorists, and was unwilling to admit that political workers have been proceeded against. He was dismissive about any large-scale arrests. He kept saying he was not aware of any detentions or arrests. It was not expected of him to be so nonchalant about aggressive actions against political activists while he, being caretaker minister, is supposed to be neutral, required to speak truth to live up to his past.

But on Friday he admitted to the reporters that a total of 124 PML-N workers have either been detained or arrested but none of them was the party leader or office-bearer. He did not say in which category he placed local council chairmen and councilors belonging to the PML-N, who have faced highhandedness.

Shaukat Javed expressed the view that he did not belong to any political party and was not interested in politics. Even if he has some political leaning, it is not tilted towards the PML-N.

Shaukat Javed’s administration did not come out with any innovative measures to deal with the present situation and resorted to traditional, hackneyed tactics to block the political workers from reaching the Lahore airport to welcome deposed Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. The approach demonstrated the same panic and nervousness that successive governments had shown on such occasions. Blockades and containers were everywhere.

His claim that there were no barricades in Lahore and it is business as usual was unbelievable. The Google map of Lahore, which displayed several blockades, gave a lie to his assertion.

In his own way, Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) chief Bilawal also rebutted what Shaukat Javed stressed. In a series of tweets, he said: “Understand the legal grounds for arrest of MNS [Mian Nawaz Sharif] after NAB conviction but on what grounds are workers and leaders being arrested? Why is Lahore under siege? Right to peaceful protest is fundamental for democracy; while PM select was allowed to fly, our permission was canceled shortly afterwards. After having been on the road for 2 hrs [I] am told permission is now granted. Bizarre. Plan on getting to Peshawar come what may.”

Punjab’s caretaker Chief Minister Dr Hassan Askari Rizvi was missing from the scene despite severe criticism from the PML-N, which had rejected his selection by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) from day one for being partisan and partial in his views and for being pro-Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), which had recommended his name for the position.

Because of the prevailing tricky situation, Shaukat Javed, because of his unconvincing utterances, will further damage himself. The mere fact that he was chosen by a partisan person to be the home minister signified that he was not impartial.

Shaukat Javed, hailing from the powerful Arian caste, belongs to the famous “Gymkhana Club” Lahore group that dominates the caretaker setup. When aligned with the PML-N, Chaudhry Sarwar, now associated with the PTI, used to support him for this ‘biradri’ reason. For the same motivation, he had been backing retired police officer Chaudhry Yaqoob when the latter had contested election from Sheikhupura in the past.

Shaukat Javed served as the inspector general of police of Punjab from April 17, 2008 to February 25, 2009, and from April 1, 2009 to April 22, 2009.

So far, there has been no reaction whatsoever from caretaker Prime Minister Justice (R) Nasirul Mulk on the precarious situation that has gripped Punjab. As per the 1951 agreement, the provincial IGPs and chief secretaries are the representatives of the federal government, which can intervene when such grave circumstances arise.

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