The Panama Papers investigation is already an action-packed affair with opposing parties not missing any chance to ridicule the other side. To add to this drama, the PML-N politicians and journalists locked horns outside the Supreme Court on February 22 after IT minister Anusha Rehman allegedly seized the mobile phone of journalist Azam Gill and threatened him with 14 years in prison. To bring this act to everyone’s notice, journalists decided to protest right when railway minister Khawaja Saad Rafique was about to address the government’s daily press conference on Panamagate. First thing first, when a minister believes they can supersede the law and manhandle a person for what they think is wrong, we have a problem. No one should be allowed to use their powerful position as a way to manipulate events; rules and laws must run their course for each and every citizen and there should be no exception.
Having said that, the journalist community also needs to respect the rules and regulations of important institutions such as the Supreme Court where this unfortunate event took place. While rightfully protesting the manhandling of their colleague, many journalists argued that when politicians are known to use their mobile phones inside the Supreme Court premises, journalists who do so should not be reprimanded. As a citizen of the country, everyone one must acknowledge when they are wrong and try to make amends instead of pointing fingers at others who are committing the same offence.
Interestingly, railway minister Rafique insisted he must not be questioned because he was not the one who committed the act. Despite being a senior PML-N politician, Rafique did not want to take responsibility for what his colleague did or resolve the matter as per the protesters’ wishes. One hopes such acts will not be repeated in the future and that matters will be resolved with basic decency.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 23rd, 2017.