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People on social media polarised

Pakistanis appeared polarised on social media over the Supreme Court’s exoneration of Aasia Bibi with three significant camps.

By Moayyed Jafri
November 01, 2018

LAHORE: Pakistanis appeared polarised on social media over the Supreme Court’s exoneration of Aasia Bibi with three significant camps.

One appreciated the government and the judiciary; the second siding with Khadim Rizvi’s narrative, while the third pointing out the PTI’sshift in its stance regarding Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP). Many chose not to engage directly over the merits and demerits of the case and the decision. However, they were very vocal in expressing their outrage against the TLP holding the country hostage and paralysing life.

People kept on posting videos and pictures of being stuck for hours in traffic and while lamenting the protesters, criticised the government for not preempting to prevent the chaos. While the social media army of TLP was hyperactive trending hashtags against the decision and calling for death sentence for Aasia, Pakistan’s progressives sprung to the occasion to stand behind the decision. As the day evolved and calls for violence against the government, judiciary and military top-brass came forth, they were met with staunch opposition and condemnations. “It is about time the chief justice took notice of the chaos that is unleashed...,” tweeted journalist and author Mehr Tarar.

Jamaat-e-Islami Pakistan’s Youth (@JIYouthOfficial) calling for mass protests tweeted, “Like others religious parties, Jamaat-e-Islami also organised demonstrations, rallies & congregations against the Supreme Court verdict.”

Activist Jibran Nasir expressed his views tweeting, “During Faizabad Dharna TLP only targeted the PML-N govt. Today they overplayed their hand by calling for mutiny..., uniting all institutions against them. They don’t act like a political force. If unchecked they may turn into a militant group.”

However, post 8 pm; Prime Minister Imran Khan’s address voiced the sentiments of the majority of Pakistanis as they rallied behind his speech. “In no uncertain terms, PM Imran Khan warned the anarchists against inciting violence and blocking roads. “Just the way it should be conveyed. #PMIKAddress,” wrote Ali Salman Alvi.

“This #PMIKAddress was what Jinnah envisaged for Pakistan. It took us 70 years to reconcile with his vision and @ImranKhanPTI said it categorically,” opined journalist and analyst Mubashir Zaidi. There were also those who quickly pointed out Imran Khan’s silence over similar actions of Khadim Rizvi during the PML-N government.

The WhatsApp groups were abuzz with discussions and debates over the issue where major topics included the merits/demerits of the decision; need to define scope of freedom to protest; the government’s incompetence regarding dealing with a predictable predicament and the significance of the prime minister’s address.