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Hot and Cold “X” Messages on Eid ul Adha



Islamabad (Imran Y. CHOUDHRY) :- Former Press Secretary to the President, Former Press Minister to the Embassy of Pakistan to France, Former MD, SRBC Mr. Qamar Bashir analysis :
There were two streaks of messages on the occasion of Eid al-Adha. One was critical, led by former President Dr. Arif Alvi, PTI founder, and former Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid. The optimistic streak was headed by the prime minister and COAS. Dr. Arif Alvi’s message was the most critical, dedicating Eid to those who suffered for their loyalty to the country, including the imprisoned, beaten, displaced, and threatened, as well as military and civilian martyrs, and the Muslims of Palestine and Kashmir. He prayed for Allah’s mercy and justice for all.

After his retirement as the President of Pakistan, Dr. Arif Alvi has been increasingly vocal about the injustices he perceives. He criticizes the treatment of participants in a peaceful rally in Lahore on May 9, 2023, who he says were subjected to severe hardships, torture, illegal confinement, threats, and intimidation. In his Eid message, he dedicated the occasion to these incarcerated workers and political activists, acknowledging their loyalty to the country. Instead of inciting action, he called for divine intervention, seeking Allah’s mercy and justice for all.

Almost the same tone and tenor were reflected in an interview with Sheikh Rashid, the former Interior Minister, broadcast on several channels during Eid ul-Adha. He recounted being imprisoned for seven years during Benazir Bhutto’s tenure and publicly lashed under Ayub Khan’s martial law. He also endured incarceration during Yahya Khan’s regime. Throughout his arduous political career, he faced imprisonment, torture, and humiliation. However, he stated that these past hardships were insignificant compared to the recent torture, both mental and physical, he endured after being abducted by the state.

In one episode shared on social media, Sheikh Rashid was described as being threatened to be hung upside down from a crane to extract a statement against Imran Khan and his wife regarding Tosha Khana. When he refused, he was offered an expensive cigar. Upon being asked to read a defamatory statement, he again refused and was placed in a prison cell with loud, terrifying noisy three different movies running round the clock on the cell wall, causing sleepless nights. He resorted to taking sleeping pills and endured significant mental torture, resulting in weight loss and memory issues.

Sheikh Rashid described experiencing unprecedented brutality, recounting how a 70-year-old female cancer patient was dragged from her house and imprisoned. He listed other women and girls who faced similar harsh conditions to break their support for the PTI chairman. Rashid revealed that while the police and law enforcement agencies carried out these actions, they privately admitted they had no grounds for his arrest, claiming they were acting under state orders. He criticized the establishment for these atrocities, saying it tarnished the reputation of the country’s most revered institution.

The next critical message came from PTI founder Imran Khan. Although imprisoned, his X handle is operated by someone outside the country with his approval. His Eid ul Adha message reads: “Eid Mubarak to my nation. Eid ul Azha symbolizes the spirit of sacrifice shown by Prophet Ibrahim AS. Unfortunately, the ego-driven actions of a few have degraded our institutions and society. The state of Pakistani cricket reflects this, with nepotism pushing it towards disaster. Mohsin Naqvi, connected to Asif Zardari and COAS Asim Munir, used his position for political suppression rather than improving the team, leading to low morale. This misplaced focus extends to law and order, with state machinery enforcing brutality while terrorism rises and the economy falters. The key decision-makers must correct course to avoid further institutional destruction.”

Imran Khan’s message targeted Mohsin Naqvi, accusing him of being a frontman and key figure first imposed as interim Chief Minister of Punjab. He allegedly orchestrated the May 9 incident or failed to stop rally participants from entering Jinnah House. Now, as the interior minister, Naqvi is accused of using state instruments to oppress the PTI and its activists. Additionally, he is blamed for damaging the Pakistani cricket team and misusing the position of PCB chairman. The message concludes by urging the powerful establishment to correct its course to prevent further deterioration of state institutions.

The positive streak of messages, led by the Prime Minister, extended heartfelt felicitations to the countrymen and all Muslims on Eid-ul-Azha, emphasizing unity and the spirit of sacrifice. Drawing from over 30 years of public relations experience, it appears that this message was crafted by the Prime Minister’s competent press team, possibly without his review. Despite a separate, pragmatic press message, the X post lacked pragmatism, hope, and future-oriented prayers. Meanwhile, Asif Ali Zardari’s last X post was on June 11, and his press message was a standard, politically neutral statement.

The Pakistan armed forces’ news handle posted on X that General Syed Asim Munir, NI (M), Chief of Army Staff (COAS), visited the Line of Control (LOC) in the Haji Pir sector to celebrate Eid-ul-Azha with the troops, highlighting his leadership and commitment to boosting troop morale. Another message on the same handle declared General Syed Asim Munir as their “Red Line.” This message was likely intended for adversaries across the border, emphasizing the COAS’s significance and resolve, rather than for the Pakistani populace.

The official X handles of Nawaz Sharif, Maryam Nawaz, and Bilawal Bhutto posted customary Eid messages. However, Maryam Nawaz’s posts focused on praising the cleanliness during the disposal of sacrificed animals’ remains, a campaign also broadcast on major TV channels, costing billions of rupees. Similarly, the Sindh government ran an expensive campaign highlighting their efforts to provide tanker water in Karachi.

These messages indicate post-Eid political strategies: PTI and its allies will focus on agitation and demand the restoration of their mandate, alleging it was stolen through the manipulation of Form 47. They will also press for the release of their leader, political activists, and workers, whom they claim are in politically motivated incarceration. Sheikh Rashid, in his recent interview, predicted that their release is unlikely in the near future.

While the other faction, accused of forming the government based on a stolen mandate, struggles to achieve legitimacy and credibility. They are launching highly expensive media campaigns to project their performance and justify maintaining the status quo. Despite their efforts, there is a lack of commitment to addressing the allegations of a stolen mandate through due legal process.

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