Attack on PTI’s Raoof Hasan is a New Low in Pakistan Establishment’s Low Blows

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Dissent and difference of opinion are at the core of any democracy. There can never be any justification for political disagreements translating into violence. Unfortunately, in Pakistan political violence has never been far from the surface. The recent attack on PTI information secretary Raoof Hasan in Islamabad on Tuesday appears to be linked to this woeful environment of intolerance.

Mr Hasan was recently attacked in a parking lot after he left a TV channel by a group of individuals who closed in on him. The CCTV footage of the episode is disturbing, and police say the politician was attacked with a blade. As an editorial in Dawn noted, “It is an unfortunate reality that when parties fall out of favour with the powers that be — like the PTI has currently — such mysterious attacks, disappearances and detentions targeting their leaders and workers grow in frequency. This culture of victimisation has had a chilling effect on Pakistani politics.”

According to an editorial in Dawn, Pakistan’s political class, “instead of applauding the victimisation of opponents, must speak out against such targeting for political affiliations. Equally important is the need to change the toxic narrative that has begun to dominate politics. The PTI, sadly, particularly through social media, has contributed to this toxicity.”

Dawn called upon all political parties to “shun venomous narratives, and only target the policy weaknesses of their opponents. More urgent is the need for all political actors to condemn the use of violence against rivals. Those who profess a belief in democracy should either speak up now, or prepare to face an even more repressive atmosphere.”

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