The conundrum that has been continuing in Pakistan since last few months, has claimed one more victim, a prominent journalist. Federal investigation agency (FIA) of Pakistan has sent summons to Gul Bukhari for anti-state propaganda on social media, the journalist has impetuously been charged with carrying out acts of terrorism by FIA. In the past, this law has been used many times to silence Pakistani journalists, who were considered dissenters by Pakistan Army. The news has earned the Army ire of Pakistani populace as it coincided with the escape of Ehsanulluah Ehsan, terrorist involved in the brutal killing of school students at APS Peshawar. Pakistan Army’s priorities are in question once again.
A February 11 statement released by Federal investigation agency says—“if she fails to appear, we will register a court case under PECA and the Anti-terrorism Act”. The statement also mentions that if she doesn’t respond within 30 days then she will be extradited to Pakistan with the help of Interpol, and that her properties in Pakistan will be seized. Ms Gul Bukhari is presently residing in United Kingdom.
In Pakistani Army’s view Ms Gul Bukhari has always been a red Robinhood who refused to be threatened by the Army’s antics, and stood out in the crowd for her brusque statements about the establishment . Ostensibly, she was also abducted by the authorities in June 2018. She shares her plight with scores of other journalists like Cyril Almeida and Taha Siddique, who have either had to face physical assault or judicial harassment for not siding with the Army. But Ms Bukhari had clearly stepped on the red line drawn by Pakistani Army with her recent comments on house arrest of a senior Pakistani officer. In a series of tweets between October and November 2019, Ms Gul Bukhari had stated that Lt Gen Sarfaraz Sattar, who was a competitor of Gen Bajwa (present Chief of Pakistani Army), was under house arrest after he had challenged Gen Bajwa’s extension.
Pakistani Army has been passing through a tumultuous time since Gen Bajwa’s extension was announced last year. Since then, atleast 20 senior officers whose promotions were in limbo, had revolted, and subsequently, Pakistani Army had to replace these officers from many key positions The reshuffle also took a toll on Maj Gen Ghafoor, ex-DGISPR (Directorate of the Inter–Services Public Relations), who was considered a supporter of Lt Gen Sarfaraz Sattar. He has now been replaced by Maj Gen Babar Iftikhar.
Interestingly, the day statement was issued by FIA against Ms Bukhari, on the same day news of Taliban terrorist Ehsanullah Ehsan’s escape also made headlines. He has in the past been part of planning and execution of attack on Noble laureate, Malala Yousafzai, and also for the attack on students of APS Peshawar, that had killed 133 innocents.
Pakistani Army has never been kind towards anyone who has mildly criticized the Army’s actions– be it brutality towards Balochis and Pashtuns, or prevalent corruption within the establishment. It is now on the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Mr Imran Khan, to ring fence Pakistani Army, which is tearing down the democratic foundation of Pakistan with it’s actions.