The press conference — that makes into history pages

The press conference --- that makes into history pages

By Irum Saleem

Dawn’s columnist Arifa Noor has put it aptly. Why the establishment felt the need to hold a presser by the ISI chief and DG ISPR to counter Imran Khan’s narrative.

    Arifa writes the news of the death of a fellow journalist when it first reached us on Monday last was our own, private loss: the loss of those few in a large country who earn their living from this profession called journalism or media, for only we are aware of the challenges and risks we face, regardless of the side we may or may not pick. Good or bad journalism, partisan or objective, nothing can guarantee safety. But still, compared to threats, beatings, loss of a job, Arshad Sharif’s death was the unkindest cut of all.

Within hours of this news, it was clear that this was not going to be a choti si kahani (short story) concerning only us. The heavens themselves blazed forth his death, to paraphrase Shakespeare, and for an entire week, it seemed as if the already fraught political situation was made all the more volatile by the news from Kenya.

Perhaps, someone more knowledgeable can explain in the coming days the outpouring of grief which seemed to cross cities, professions and distances. People travelled to Islamabad for his funeral, which according to some accounts was one of the biggest ever held at Faisal Mosque, where men and women gathered to say namaz. And the slogans raised there that day belonged not to any party, but to an angry populace, most of whom were unfamiliar to Arshad’s friends and family.

By turning up there, they made it clear that they, too, had a claim on him. But elsewhere, politics was reaching a crescendo.

Imran Khan chose the same week to announce his long march and on the day of the funeral itself came an even bigger surprise — a press conference addressed by the DG ISI. It was a first by all accounts. For despite the central and high-profile role of most of our previous ISI heads, no one can remember one ever addressing a press conference. And this from someone, who has had his images removed from pictures which had to be released publicly.

Recounting of the story about how Imran Khan was willing to offer an unlimited extension to the army chief in exchange for staying in power may do more than just reflect on the former prime minister.

For his supporters and others, this will simply reinforce the messaging of the PTI that the vote of no-confidence was not simply an organic, democratic move planned and carried out by the PDM parties. And that it was somehow linked to the institution itself.

This perception has become news due to the press conference of Thursday. Not just because of what was said but because of the government itself which is also constantly talking about the appointment. When Imran Khan says he doesn’t want the government to appoint the army chief and the prime minister responds by saying he will consult no one on the appointment of the army chief, they are both creating a link between the political situation at the moment and the appointment. And so did the press conference on Thursday.

And this exactly is the issue with public statements. One can control the words uttered but not the interpretation.

   So it a million dollar question whether the killers of Arshad Sharif will ever be exposed? PAK DESTINY

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