Response to Allegations by Express TV.
A number of accusations have been made against me on Express TV by the anchor Ahmed Quraishi. I would like to put on record that these accusations are completely false and constitute incitement to violence, hate speech, slander, and libel.
The cancellation of a talk on Balochistan at LUMS, allegedly on orders of ISI, has raised a significant outcry across the country. As has been pointed out by many analysts, the state’s decision to ban the event has probably given the issue much more publicity than it would have received had it been allowed to go forward without comment. Some of those who support the decision to cancel the event have taken to pointing to the case of PTI MNA Asad Umar whose talk at LUMS was also canceled. However, this comparison ignores several important differences.
The state’s hypocrisy is on bright display once again this week following two seemingly unrelated incidents that actually have important factors in common. The first is the cancellation of a discussion on Balochistan at LUMS, allegedly under orders of ISI. The demand that LUMS cancel the discussion was believed to be based on the inclusion of Mama Qadeer, a Baloch activist and founder of a group working on the issue of missing persons believed to have been abducted or killed by intelligence agencies. Cases of missing persons have been languishing in courts as ISI often refuses to comply with court orders.
The complaint about the LUMS lecture is that it was promoting separatists. Leaving aside questions about academic freedom, free speech, and whether or not engaging the separatists and listening to their concerns is a more realistic way of solving the crisis than trying to silence and intimidate them, there is another problem with the decision to ban speeches by separatists: We have a state policy of supporting separatists.
It’s not often that an academic discussion becomes national news, but this is the case with a talk on Balochistan planned to take place at LUMS. Actually, the talk would have come and gone with little attention at all except that the organisers were forced to cancel it, allegedly under direct order of ISI.
Talking to Pakistan Today, LUMS faculty member Dr Taimur Rehman said, “A delegation from the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) visited LUMS in the evening and presented a letter calling for cancellation of the talks. They said that Balochistan is a sensitive issue and that the moot could be used to malign Pakistan,” said Dr Rehman, adding that the intelligence officials were firm in their directive.
The decision to ban the discussion began to receive criticism on social media, only to be quickly responded by dozens of posts supporting the decision. Interestingly, many of the posts supporting the decision appear to be coming from new accounts with almost no followers posting exactly the same thing over and over again. Continue reading