Senators smell conspiracy against democracy

* Question purpose of media war over a controversial show

ISLAMABAD: Legislators in the Upper House of parliament on Monday said that the country is passing through a critical phase, and efforts are being made to make the state institutions’ repute questionable and divide media.

The legislators urged the democratic forces to unite, warning that the country’s existence is at stake. They said that through a well-planned conspiracy, efforts are being made to change the current democratic system and introduce another form of government, like presidential, technocrat or one under an Ameerul Momineen. The legislators said Islam has been misused and people have been pitted against each other on sectarian basis. 
“A serious conspiracy has been hatched to derail democracy and the 1973 Constitution,” PPP leader Mian Raza Rabbai said after presenting a motion signed by the PPP and ANP senators stating that the House may discuss the political situation of the country. Rabbani said the repercussions of these conspiracies will be very dangerous, may be in the long term, if not today. “The conspirators used Islam to achieve their nefarious designs,” he said, adding that trust deficit between Islamabad and Peshawar, Quetta, Karachi has been widened. 
He regretted that one year after the general elections, efforts have been made by the PTI to bring into question the sincerity of the Election Commission of Pakistan and judiciary. He said although his party also has reservations about the ECP, but questioned why was its sincerity being questioned one year after the election. On a separate note, Rabbani said, “Banning of media is also a bad sign for democracy because it played the role of a watchdog.” He said that a rift has been created among media groups. 
The PPP leader said that media is a watchdog and that it is not acceptable to put curbs on any news channel. “Gone are the days when media was restricted,” he remarked, while adding that the time has come for the democratic forces to find reasons for deterioration in the situation. “This is the right time for all political forces to unite because the federation is at stake,” he said. Supporting Rabbani, another PPP senator, Saeed Ghani said if any private TV channel has committed a mistake, PEMRA must take action. 
He questioned as to why the matter of Geo’s morning show has not been resolved despite an apology by the channel. “Holding public rallies through banned organisations against a TV channel was totally unjustifiable,” Ghani said. He regretted that today all the media houses have stopped discussing public issues like load shedding, unemployment, price hike and are just hurling allegations at each other. “But in all these cases”, he said, “it is regrettable that the government is totally silent”. 
Speaking on the issue, another PPP senator, Farhatullah Babar said that if any news channel commits a mistake and then offers public apology the issue should be discarded. Babar noted that a secret agency has been accused several times in the missing persons’ and other cases. “Banning any media group will be disastrous and threaten democracy,” he warned. He suggested establishment of a committee, which must have all stakeholders including parliamentarians, to probe all such accusations. Opposition leader in Senate Aitizaz Ahsan also said that if any channel commits a mistake and then apologises, the issue should be set aside.

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