By: Insaf Ali Bangwar
Red alert by PECA created a situation of swim or sink. Keep silent or go to jail. The ordinance of PECA at the time of nightfall is the very sign for the nation to undo the habit of questioning and choice. Even in this post-modern globalized world, a word, phrase or sentence against any authority could lead you to jail sans any bail for at least three to five years since it is a non-bailable offense. The overriding act of PECA is simply meant to be or having a herd mentality. Dare not think, else you would not help speak the truth. Dare not raise your voice dissent against crippled policies and institutional overbearing. Dare not criticize representatives of state institutions or members of political parties. Owing to being protected by PECA, dare not disagree with what they say or do. Just dare not.
Time to compress your lips, numb your mind, shield your cognition, bury your inquisitiveness, undo your habits and lock your intellect since it is better to be in a sweet home than in jail. The truth is becoming taboo, questioning is strictly prohibited and criticizing is a crime. Suffer to your lugubrious fate where actions cannot be mended but the Constitutional and fundamental rights can be usurped.
Under Article 19 of the Constitution accordingly, every denizen of the country has the right of freedom of expression and freedom of speech. What about that? The amendment to Section 20 of the Peca impedes criticism are politically motivated and objected to clasping down on disagreeing voices. Broadening the explanation and scope of persons to encompass key state establishments or other bodies speak volumes of political mal-intent and bolstering tyrannical trends. It seems to be armour for the ruling. Instead of making the PECA a tool against terror, unfortunately, it is being used vice versa. Owing to be immuned by PECA, political parties, institutions and organizations are misleading, misguiding and misinforming the hapless masses. In other words, if you hurt their interests, it will simply be considered as “false” and vice versa. Resultantly, even a rightful and adequate criticism could land you in the ambit of falsehood. Because of being authoritarian, they are manipulating emotions, moulding laws to their favour, making hallow pledges, framing shortsighted policies with catastrophic results and are remaining beyond scrutiny.
In addition, not something rather anything that gets in contra to the status quo would be complained about and would be tried under PECA. No more, no less, the outcomes, in long term, would be drastic since it will bolster the rule of authoritarianism and would protect the corrupt and further aggravate the exploitative activities of the ruling elite. Simply, PECA is on a way to further decay the transparency and democracy of the country. The amendment to PECA via a presidential ordinance, bypassing parliamentary supporting or du jour accede, implicates the unpopularity of the move.
Amid such a milieu, any democratic layout will encompass a gap for dissent. This contains criticism of the governments coupled with institutions and their policies. As being the very soul of a democracy, dissent and condemnation assure the political and societal metamorphosis in a sense that is in sync with the emerging global dynamics. Circumscribing criticism under the disguise of falsehood is the very testimony of dawning societal development to a chopping halt. Indeed, such repressively swelling condemnation and curb on freedom of speech is an invasion of the already fragile foundational doctrines of our democracy, in other words, the recent PECA ordinance will aggravate the ills of the country that are already canker for it.
The writer is a freelance contributor based in Kandhkot, Sind. He can be reached at [email protected]