ISLAMABAD: Opposition parties staged a walkout from the Senate against a ‘controversial’ advertisement on Wednesday. The advertisement was published by the federal government in all national newspapers last month showing terrorists with Pathan peculiars – turban and a beard.
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Senator Muhammad Azam Khan Swati and one of the ruling party allies Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam – Fazl (JUI-F) Senator Hafiz Hamdullah drew attention of the house towards the advertisement published by the federal government. The ‘ad’ was issued by the military’s media wing, the Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR).
The government spokesperson’s explanation could not satisfy even some of the ruling party’s lawmakers who endorsed Senator Hamdullah and joined the protest. “It was strange for me as my ‘calling attention notice’ was brought on the Senate agenda and some members of the ruling party also joined us in the protest,” Senator Hamdullah said.
He stated that the reason for moving this notice, were the pictures which appeared in newspapers on February 8 depicting men with beards and caps and women in burqas, as terrorists. He said that if beards, turbans and veils are signs of terrorism, then ‘we are all terrorists’.
Hafiz Hamdullah said the interior minister confessed yesterday that the war on terrorism was imposed on us following the 9/11 terrorist attacks despite the fact that none of the terrorists involved were from Pakistan. Referring to Gen Musharraf, Chaudhry Nisar had also said that a military dictator facilitated the process in bringing this conflict to Pakistan. “I want to ask why Musharraf’s picture was not included in the advertisement,” asked the Senator.
He questioned why those servicemen found to be involved in the attacks on Kamra and Mehran airbases were not displayed in the list of terrorists.
Senator Swati said that disgracing Pathans and distorting their identity had no justification. “I am very shocked over the advertisement given by ISPR in the newspapers,” he said. “Are the eyes of the institution closed like the governments’,” he said, adding that “I condemn the ISPR in strong terms with reference to this advertisement.”
State Minister Sheikh Aftab Ahmad said that the advertisement was aimed at extending full support to the army and the government in the wake of the Army Public School and Bacha Khan University attacks. Pathans have not been declared terrorists in this advertisement, he added.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 10th, 2016.