Rashed Rahman - Voicepk.net

By Rashed Rehman

“Many retired military generals have been inducted into heading various state institutions during the PTI’s incumbency, continuing and even accelerating a long-standing trend.”

The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaaf (PTI) government has seen fit to remove Dr. Firdous Ashiq Awan from the position of Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) for Information and replace her with Lt-General (retd), Asim Bajwa. Leader of the House in the Senate Shibli Faraz has been appointed Federal Minister for Information almost a year after Fawad Chaudhry was removed from that post. The latter change is nothing out of the ordinary but bringing former DG ISPR Lt-General (retd) Bajwa into the slot of SAPM is bound to raise eyebrows.

As it is the PTI government is accused of being a ‘selected’ government because of the controversial 2018 general elections. Now the induction of Bajwa, responsible for building up COAS General (retd) Raheel Sharif’s image and turning ISPR into a media empire able to control and dominate the national narrative raises fresh questions about which hands the reins of power actually lie in.

“Now the induction of Bajwa, responsible for building up COAS General (retd) Raheel Sharif’s image and turning ISPR into a media empire able to control and dominate the national narrative raises fresh questions about which hands the reins of power actually lie in.”

Many retired military generals have been inducted into heading various state institutions during the PTI’s incumbency, continuing and even accelerating a long-standing trend. Bajwa’s media handling skills could be expected to bolster the rather poor image of the PTI government in the media and repair the acrimonious state of relations between the government and the press. However, Bajwa will only be able to achieve these objectives if he can persuade Prime Minister Imran Khan to desist from lambasting the media of lying and accusing them of being paid agents of some vested interest, in sharp contrast to Imran Khan’s reliance on, and praise of, the media while he was in opposition.

The newspaper bodies, APNS and CPNE, have welcomed the reshuffle at the top of the Information pyramid, perhaps in the hope of relief from the government’s restrictions on advertisements that have caused a serious financial and job crisis in the media. Only time will tell whether the hopes from the new Information czars will yield what the various stakeholders hope and wish for.