Punjab government action against foreign journalists in South Punjab

According to this article in The Hindu, the Punjab government has responded to the recent rise in attention to extremism in South Punjab by banning entry of any foreign journalists into seminaries in South Punjab unless they apply for special permission from Foreign Affairs and the Interior Ministry.

This is not a sudden development. Writing in In October, Ayesha Siddiqua said that the Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah had criticized her for investigating the Jaish-e-Muhammad seminaries and accused her of looking at the situation through a “western lens”. She had also been criticized in almost the same words by the Jaish-e-Muhammad newsletter. Interestingly, Ayesha Siddiqua mentioned that she went to the Interior Ministry and was given assistance in her investigations but the district government was extremely uncooperative. The much-criticized Interior Minister Rehman Malik has actually mentioned the militancy in South Punjab in very dire terms several times since June this year, even saying that an operation might be in the works against Southern Punjab militants.

Contrast this with the ostrich-like behaviour of Shahbaz Sharif. In today’s Nation there is an article about how the Punjab government is getting tough with suspicious foreigners. Continuing in The Nation’s now world-famous tradition of accusing foreigners of spying and of suspicious activity, the article mentions several suspicious individuals who have been lurking around various parts of Southern Punjab:

Punjab Chief Minister Mian Shahbaz Sharif has instructed the security officials not to show any leniency to all those foreigners who fail to prove their identity or are allegedly indulged in breach of municipal laws in the province.

I am sure that this decisive and nationalistic move made by Shahbaz Sharif has only endeared him further to his constituents and members of the media. Why deal with or even acknowledge internal problems when they can instead be described in terms of foreign spies and agencies. In the mean time, calls for resignation of Rehman Malik and the current government will loudly continue and we can then look forward to a PML-N government – in which the only anti-terrorism policy will be to literally deny that terrorism even exists.


11 responses to “Punjab government action against foreign journalists in South Punjab

  1. The PML-N take on the terrorism issue is absolutely hopeless!! Not only have they not taken any action against the terrorists breathing under their regime, the Punjab government, they also have been very reluctant in openly denouncing the Taliban and co., quite like JI and the likes.

  2. admin

    Salman to be fair to the PML I don’t think all of them are on the same page about everything. Have you read this article by Tariq Butt where he talks about the differences between hardliners like Shahbaz Sharif and Chaudhry Nisar vs. Nawaz Sharif’s more compromising politics?


    Perhaps Nawaz Sharif will also show some rethinking regarding counter-terrorism which would be very welcome. OTOH PML-N might have boxed itself into a corner by tying counter-terrorism with being too pro American.

    Whoever can successfully come up with an honest counter-terrorism policy that honestly handles home-grown terror without blaming it solely on foreign hands and conspiracies and still not alienate the public opinion has my support. NS’s advantage is that he is not seen as pro-American as PPP leadership. However one only has to think back to the Lahore Declaration in 1999 and Jamaat’s campaign against him to see how perceptions of a civilian leader’s nationalism can change if he acts too ‘unpatriotically’.

  3. //Whoever can successfully come up with an honest counter-terrorism policy that honestly handles home-grown terror without blaming it solely on foreign hands and conspiracies and still not alienate the public opinion has my support//
    I guess that would be none then 😛
    It seems quite impossible to be both non-anti-US and popular among the masses, especially if you also have an operation against the Taliban at your hands.
    However, I’d agree, NS has the advantage that even when claiming that stance, he can get away with the usual state propaganda stating the regular rhetoric and minting people’s sympathies that way, regardless of what actual policy he forms since he has no in-deficit trust-value over the being-pro-US thing.
    Still, he may not be very likeable by the hawks in D.C. always saying the same ol’ shit of ‘do more.’ He’d need to do more than form alliances with JI and TI to convince them of his anti-Taliban stance.

  4. admin

    I guess that would be none then 😛

    lol. well one thing to consider is that PML has taken action against SSP in the late 90s. Shahbaz Sharif was actually credited for the police action against them, right? I think (or hope) people like Rana Sanaullah will eventually have to wake up and smell the coffee regardless of their political posturing right now.

    btw, NS’s statement today:
    LAHORE: Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Mian Nawaz Sharif said Tuesday that it was deplorable if India was involved in the recent wave of attacks in Pakistan.

    Speaking to media persons at Sheikh Zayed Hospital here, he warned that such acts from India could sabotage the restoration of peace process between the two countries.

    He said the nation is facing a tough challenge at this time, but said we would pass this time with courage and determination.

    Had the parliament played its effective role, we would not have facing such a situation, he lamented. He urged the parliamentary committee that it should introduce concrete policies in future.

    He called on the politicians to unite for dealing with the challenge of militancy.

  5. stuka

    Shahbaz Sharif also cracked down on Jamaat e Islami in the aftermath of the Lahore Declaration. That time JI activists had cleaned the Minar ePakistan after Kafir Vajpayee had polluted it. This was not compatible with the image NS had wanted to portray and SS had done some strong arm tactics in Lahore.

    What I find fascinating about the India linkage is that there is a section of the ruling elite that actually accepts it at face value. If so, that puts the government in a quandary. How do they explain lack of action as the bombings continue with the bulk of Army divs on the eastern border but terror continues on the western border? Add to that the US pressure of hitting the Quetta Shura or the “ultimatum” that the US would do so. Essentially, Pakistan is now facing up to its contradictions of supporting Islamists and yet being pro-Western. Either Pakistan takes a stand against Islamists or it asks Saudi / China some other power broker for support while it tells the Americans to eff off. The third scenario, which is tactically tempting, is to generate India-Pak tension and ask the Islamists for help.

  6. admin

    yeah stuka. A lot of PML’s posturing right now is because they have absolutely no obligation to take any stance on terrorism. I have a feeling this is why NS keeps supporting Zardari when things are looking really bad for him because he really doesn’t want to be in power for a while. A lot of people earlier in the year predicted that they would lose their popularity by not speaking out on terror attacks while in the opposition but that does not seem to have been true. Of course there is also the same amount of ideological paralysis that everyone else suffers from, but it’s not insurmountable (as the anti-SSP operations of the 90s show).

    agreed with your 2nd paragraph.

  7. stuka

    I had a question – check out this video below. Who is this “doctor sahib” who is arguing with Zaid Hamid

  8. admin

    Dr Muhammad Farooq Khan, he’s a liberal islamic scholar

    he’s in this video as well – has some interesting debates with qazi hussain ahmed

  9. Aliarqam

    Dr. Farooq is associated with Javed Ghamidi….
    He is From Mardan, Pakhtunkha(NWFP).

    As for as the PML-N is concerned….They are a bit more politicized form of JI…Most of the hawks belong to it are former members of IJT(student wing of JI)
    You will not hear any remarks from them on any other issue except Zardari bashing….
    PML actually depict the thinking of Pakistani(mostly Panjabi) middle classes….and are compatible with Pakistani Establishment cperceptions regarding foriegn policy, Nuclear programme, anti India rhetorics….
    Taliban or any super islamic fighters are deeply rooted in our pscyce…It wants very untraditional approach to deny these sort of elements….

  10. Aliarqam

    We the people from the land of the pure have very strange responses toward the terrorists activities from the monsters and devils……
    On every attack from the monsters, we hear strange remarks….
    -Yeh Kaam koi Muslaman Nia Kar Sakta
    -Yeh kaise Insaan Hain, muslaman hona tou Dur Ki Baat Hai
    -Iss K Peeche Bharati Hath Hai
    -Pakisatn Ko Islaam Se koi Juda Nai Kar sakta
    And many more……

    Leaders of these monsters declare us the Kaafirs and Munaafiqs and we reply in the same manner declaring them Kaafirs….It means Muslaman Cant fight each other…..

    They accuse us of killing them with American hands and aid and we blame them for taking arms from India…..

    This confused Nation of 180 millions are fighting a War with such tactics

  11. humza ikram

    good post , what can you expect from them . there Gojra city chief was involve in gojra tragedy . lashkar jhangvi is back in south-eastern punjab , between Faislabad t jhang .
    even though CJ Lahore took a sou-moto action but not even a single court hearing has been conducted till now .

    long live fruits of long march !

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