The land of mischief mongers

A local English daily recently published an ‘investigative’ story based on an alleged report by the Special Branch of Punjab Police. According to the report, a federal minister and the federal government’s nominee in Punjab were allegedly working on a plan to assassinate the chief justice of the Lahore High Court (LHC) Khawaja Muhammad Sharif. Though the alleged planners were not named, it was all but obvious that the report was trying to implicate federal Law Minister Babar Awan and Governor Punjab Salmaan Taseer. It was also alleged that a PPP Punjab chapter’s official was tasked with hiring hardened criminals to carry out this plan. Some of the suspects were arrested by the Punjab Police but have been declared innocent after interrogation.

Federal Interior Minister Rehman Malik has reportedly asked the ISI and IB to check the authenticity of the report while Governor Taseer has written a letter to the Chief Justice of Pakistan, Iftikhar Chaudhry, to order a judicial inquiry into the matter. Meanwhile, Colonel (retd) Ehsan, former chief of the Special Branch, has denied that the report was written by him or any other official of the said department. Col (retd) Ehsan has reportedly been taken into protective custody. With no one willing to take the responsibility for authoring this report, the whole episode smacks of a campaign to discredit the PPP-led federal government.

Governor Taseer has alleged that Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif’s secretary Tauqeer Shah leaked the fake report to the local newspaper and Major (retd) Mushtaq, Jahanzeb Burki and Rana Maqbool were part of the conspiracy. The PML-N has been mealy-mouthed about the whole issue. Whether someone from the PML-N is behind the report or some other forces are at work can only be ascertained after a high level probe is launched into this messy affair.

On the face of it so far, it seems like a manipulative report instead of being a genuine one. It is highly unfortunate that a sensitive report such as this one was leaked to the media without verifying any facts whatsoever. At a time when the country is passing through a difficult phase, creating a rift between the provincial government and the federal government is the height of irresponsibility. If the report is indeed fake as is being claimed by the PPP, the mischief mongers must be punished severely.

(my editorial in Daily Times)

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