Is PM Shehbaz following in Imran's footsteps?

PILDAT chief says resorting to foul language in politics popular but dangerous trend

Rizwan Shehzad   March 12, 2023
Awarding derogatory titles to opponents has become an integral part of verbal spats in the country’s political landscape. PHOTO: PID


Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Saturday declared that former premier Imran Khan was a “coward” and “criminal” while grudgingly venting that the PTI chairman was running away from courts instead of facing them like the Sharif family as well as other PML-N leaders did not so long ago.

In a statement, the prime minister accused the deposed premier of attempting to obstruct the revival of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) programme, which was initiated during Imran’s own tenure in power.

PM Shehbaz also alleged that spreading chaos and mischief on the streets were part of Imran’s agenda to derail the IMF programme.

In addition, the premier claimed that Imran was not interested in the welfare of the poor people and unwilling to address the issue of the rising inflation as well as economic pressures, saying evading courts was the height of the PTI chairman's cowardice.

“This timid person [Imran] did not allow the courts to search him as he is guilty,” he declared without the PTI chief’s conviction.

Surprising as it may seem, the premier’s statement carrying several other taunts and allegations were similar to what Imran would frequently resort to when he ruled the country.

When Imran was the prime minister, he used to lash out at the Sharif family, especially Shehbaz, and declare them thieves, corrupt and robbers.

Often, the PTI chairman called Shehbaz a “criminal” and “the culprit of the nation.

Imran stubbornly maintained that he did not consider Shehbaz as the opposition leader and he would not even shake hands with him.

He still labels Shehbaz and others as thieves, corrupt and robbers, etc.

Calling each other shameless, duffer and awarding other such derogatory titles to opponents has become an integral part of verbal spats in the country’s political landscape.

At a time when the country needs unity amid several political and economic challenges, experts feel that politicians, including the incumbent and ex-premiers, do not hesitate from calling names and adopting an aggressive behaviour.

“I think Shehbaz Sharif has started following in the footsteps of Imran Khan when it comes to calling names,” Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency (Pildat) President Ahmed Bilal Mehboob told The Express Tribune.

He added that Imran had set the trend and now Shehbaz, his niece Maryam Nawaz and other PML-N leaders were responding in the same tone.

“Politicians’ first instinct is to become popular,” the Pildat chief said, observing that when one party or leader saw that foul language was paying dividends to other politicians, they resorted to the same level as well.

Terming it a popular but a dangerous trend, Mehboob noted that it had become common to abuse others for the sake of political gains, without realising it was spreading hatred among youngsters and others.

Mehboob said the aggressive behaviour of one party compelled others to follow in its footsteps.

Otherwise, he added that their supporters would believe that their leader was a coward and could not respond in the same tone.

He equated the trend with filmmakers’ tendency to produce a “Wehshi Gujjar” type of film after witnessing the success of one such movie.

Regretting that the core issues of Pakistan were being neglected, Mehboob said the focus of political leaders was to become popular by hook or by crook and that was not a good sign for the country.

As this story was being written, PM Shehbaz called Imran “an egoistic person”, who was busy spreading the culture of intolerance in the nation while condemning an attack on a media team allegedly by PTI workers in Lahore.

“Imran Niazi filled the youth with the poison of intolerance and anarchy,” PM Shehbaz said in a statement.

Assuring media personnel that the government would take steps to ensure their safety, PM Shehbaz said Imran’s rule was filled with stories of oppression against journalists, saying anyone who questioned the PTI chief was subjected to torture.

Ironically, the safety assurance from the premier has come at a time when journalists were manhandled by police inside the premises of the Islamabad High Court.

To add insult to injury, nobody was booked on the journalists’ complaint of being manhandled despite assurances given by interior and law ministers, Rana Sanaullah and Azam Nazeer Tarar respectively, as well as PM’s special assistant -- Attaullah Tarar -- that an FIR of the incident would soon be registered.


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