Full circle yet?
Now that Ayesha Gulalai’s allegations have done their rounds on social media, fed prime time TV frenzy, and led to calls for a probe from left-leaning feminists to right-wing politicians all the way to the national assembly, perhaps it’s time for this particular affair to come full circle. First of all, at the risk of repetition, we still advise Ms Gulalai to follow proper procedure since, allegedly, a crime has been committed. She will find that not just the Pakistan Penal Code but also Articles 18 and 19 of the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act 2016 exist to provide justice to women in just the kind of position she says Imran Khan put her in.
PTI, too, should look for closure rather than dragging this on. If the alleged texts are really a PML-N sponsored conspiracy, and the party and chairman have nothing to fear, then it should not take conflicting positions on the investigation. Rejecting the national assembly’s ethics committee, after initially agreeing to a probe, makes the matter more complicated than it has already become. Also, PTI’s demand of appointing an independent parliamentary commissioner on the British model is unlikely to work in the Pakistani setting. Since one man leads the investigation in that model, one side will surely claim bias and dispute the result.
That is why the government needs to act more responsibly in this matter than it has so far.
There is a point in PTI’s implication that the ethics committee would put political opponents in the position of judge and jury. If the national assembly probe is to have any credibility, it should not be dominated by some of the government’s most aggressive supporters. So far there have been endless allegations and counter-allegations, but little quantifiable progress. The government must, therefore, appoint a non-partisan investigation committee to evaluate the evidence sooner rather than later. Otherwise this will become a constant noise at least till the election.