Playing politics over a dead body must stop


WEB DESK: As elections to the Azad Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Assembly – scheduled for June 26 – draw nearer tensions between the ruling PPP and the main opposition party the PML-N are spinning out of control. One person was killed in Kotli last Saturday when the participants of a PPP procession clashed with PML-N workers and the police used tear gas to disperse them. Since then both sides have been claiming the deceased was their activist while accusing one another of his murder.

The PPP observed Monday as a ‘black day’ to protest the killing while the PML-N called for the resignation of AJK Prime Minister Chaudhry Abdul Majid who, for his part, accused the federal government of practising “the politics of baton and bullet in our territory”. The premier even threatened that he would soon write to the army chief (adding for good measure) and other heads of institutions in Pakistan urging them to take notice of the language used by federal ministers. His cabinet colleagues issued similar statements alleging that the Nawaz League was resorting to strong-arm tactics to win the upcoming elections.

To say the least, it is sad indeed that either party should play politics over a dead body. Unfortunately, this is not the first time that a citizen has been killed while participating in a peaceful political activity. Lives of ordinary people seem to hold no value in the prevailing political culture. There are several examples of people getting killed in similar circumstances on the watch of this government. The case of two lives lost during the PIA employees’ protest in Karachi is still fresh in public mind.

Not too long ago, as many as 12 PAT workers died and scores were injured in Model Town when the police opened fire on them. Later, one PTI activist was shot dead at a rally in Faisalabad, and another in an attack on the party’s procession near Jehlum. To date no one has been held to account for any of these senseless killings. Such utter disrespect for life is unacceptable in any decent democracy.

This must not be allowed to go unchecked. Whosoever is responsible for the present incident must be held to account. The AJK Premier has rejected the inquiry ordered by his government’s Chief Secretary, saying since he is the chief executive no bureaucrat could order an inquiry. He himself being a party to the dispute cannot be expected to conduct an impartial investigation. If he is looking towards the army, as he has indicated, that can only embarrass him and his party. The Leader of the Opposition in the Legislative Assembly, Raja Farooq Haider, has called for a judicial inquiry.

Regrettably, such inquiries have not helped in the past as the Model Town case amply demonstrates. When influential people are involved either the findings are not made public or the process comes to a halt once public anger subsides. Such tactics will not work forever. At some point, there will be a public backlash that neither party may be able to withstand unscathed. It is in their own long-term interest therefore to make good faith efforts to bring perpetrator of the Kotly murder case to justice.

Source: Business Recorder