The state of affairs in Pakistan is in a mess. The army and the civilian government have been rattled by Indian surgical strikes. The Army is apparently upset with Nawaz Sharif and his party over its failure to tackle India diplomatically. Several rumours of a possible coup have also emerged.
But when the assistant editor of Pakistani daily Dawn Cyril Almeida, dared to tell the truth, the not-so-Sharif government barred him from exiting Pakistan. On October 6th Cyril gave details of a showdown that had allegedly taken place between ISI DG Gen Akhtar and Chief Minister of Punjab (Pakistan) Shabaz Sharif.
He wrote,'Gen Akhtar offered that the government should arrest whomever it deems necessary...Addressing Gen Akhtar, the younger Sharif complained that whenever action has been taken against certain groups by civilian authorities, the security establishment has worked behind the scenes to set the arrested free'
Cyril was soon placed on 'Exit Control List', which means he cannot leave Pakistan. Whether this is for an indefinite period or temporary is still unknown.
Many suspect Cyril is being particularly targeted because of his Goan Christian roots. The journalist received widespread support from Pakistan as well as India. Dawn, that was founded by Mohammed Ali Jinnah, has also supported Cyril and added that they stand by the report. But the journalist believes the worst is yet to come.
Am concerned, possibly convinced, more than 24hrs after the travel ban was imposed that govt is planning to take further, uglier actions.
— cyril almeida (@cyalm) October 11, 2016
Why target the journalist?
It has become fashionable to target journalist and media. The killing of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl by Taliban gripped the world in 2002. Earlier this year in May, two journalist Akhilesh Singh and Rajdev Ranjan were killed in broad daylight in Bihar.
Journalism is the voice of the oppressed and the unheard. Just because someone has a voice that is different from yours, must not and should not make them an easy target.
There can be deliberations or one can also seek justice through the court. But to single out someone or use extra-judicial means is uncalled for and is unwarranted.
In this case Pakistan needs to sort this constitutional crisis. They must realize that a journalist doing his job is not the root cause of their problems. Targeting innocents will only add on their long list of woes. First the Balochis, then the Sindhis and now Journalists. If this continues, then Nawaz Sharif will have more detractors than supporters in his own country.