Toxic violence

Editorial Board
Friday, May 24, 2024

A group of around four people, apparently transgender persons, attacked and injured PTI spokesperson Raoof Hasan in Islamabad on Tuesday. Hasan was attacked by the four assailants outside the office of a private TV channel and a blade was used to cut his face. The footage and pictures of the attack and its aftermath were gruesome. On Wednesday, Raoof Hasan said that the attackers wanted to “slit” his throat. He also raised objections to the FIR lodged by the Islamabad police following the incident. However, an Islamabad police spokesperson said in a statement that the content of the FIR was based on a written request submitted by the wounded politician which was received with his signature and thumb impression in the presence of his legal team. Federal Law Minister Azam Nazeer Tarar said on Wednesday that an inquiry committee had been formed to investigate the “regrettable” attack on Hasan. The PTI has demanded the formation of a judicial commission to investigate the attack. PTI founding chairman Imran Khan said that his party would even take to the streets: “our patience is running out, and we will protest in the streets”.

It is evident the political temperature may just beat the heatwave if things are not handled carefully. This is not the first time a politician has been attacked in Pakistan. In fact, over the years, politicians have been killed, shot, ‘picked up’ and beaten. But things are now getting out of control. The attack on Raoof Hasan is worrying. It does not matter whether his party is in troubled waters – no politician should feel unsafe just for voicing their opinion; any opinion, against or for anyone. While the government has formed a committee to investigate the matter, history shows that such inquiries hardly ever materialize into anything concrete or resolve such issues. It is also unfortunate that the top leadership of the ruling alliance has not condemned this assault that could have led to far more serious and unfortunate consequences. The government should seriously ensure that the attackers and those behind this seemingly planned attack are nabbed and punished. It was Ahsan Iqbal yesterday, it is Raoof Hasan today.

Around the world, political differences are voiced through words. When these differences turn personal and violent, there is something really wrong with the political arena. It is important for the government to bring the political temperature down. Fingers will be pointed at each other but it is time for political parties to put a stop to this culture of hate, intolerance and toxic polarization. Pakistan needs breathing space and healing. The PTI should also consider taking a step in the right direction – parliament and talks with its political opponents. Peaceful protests are a democratic right but we have seen how quickly these protests can turn violent. Everyone needs to take a step back and calm down. Let political differences be resolved through political dialogue.