By Shaheen Sehbai

It amuses me non-stop when a media group I worked for, bends backwards and forward, in all odd forms and shapes, to justify that the Supreme Court-led investigation into PM Sharif’s family assets and finances, is somehow controversial because of a WhatsApp call which has already been owned and confirmed by the SC judges.

Going today through thousands of words, raising numerous frivolous questions and jacking up the issue, even using comments by lawyer Aitzaz Ahsan to somehow make the case look credible, the media group is only making a laughing stock of itself.

I do not blame the writers and reporters, whose names have been used as I know all of them and they earn their livelihood by working hard, according to the policy of the newspaper, strictly as per the guidelines of the bosses.

I also know that not a word or a sentence they would have written to balance their reports as independent and objective reporters would be published as these are all vetted with a microscope every night.

Yet the campaign to make the JIT, and subsequently the SC, controversial continues as the Sharif family sinks deeper and deeper into their own stinking pool of dirt and filth.

Amusingly, just a few weeks back these very PML-N leaders were distributing sweets to celebrate the 3-2 judgment of the 5-member SC bench.

That these sweets were ready for distribution even before the judgment had been announced, as many of the PML-N insiders have confirmed, should have raised some eyebrows.

Yet the euphoria of celebrations subsided soon as the reality sunk in and the JIT was formed directly under orders of the SC judges.

The judges had from day one announced categorically that they would name the members of the JIT. Thus names were sought from all institutions, some were rejected and replacements were asked for and finally all those officers were found who had the trust of the SC bench. Nobody even objected to the process.

So what relevance and importance a WhatsApp call to any institution can have as everything was being done on direct orders and under close supervision of the judges.

But since the media group, which has survived for the last almost three years because of lavish and generous support of the Nawaz government, especially after it ran into a direct confrontation with the military establishment over the Hamid Mir attack issue, has to cook controversy, even where none exists, to prove it is doing its duty to support the government and pay back the favours it has been receiving.

A senior journalist from Lahore who knows and has been covering the Sharif family for years, gave a very interesting explanation of how this family handles such crises and what are the signs that should be noted if they are in trouble or conversely are winning the game.

He says the reaction of the family must be watched closely and it sends the clearest of signals.

“If its leaders are praising the judges, assuring that they will honour all verdicts and will respect the judiciary, it is a clear sign that they are secretly confident, or have made some arrangements, to get a result of their liking.”

“But when they start attacking the process, abuse investigators, begin creating controversies with the help of media, political friends and cronies, launch campaigns of threats and intimidation, it is a sure sign that the family is not comfortable and uneasy.”

The present situation should be assessed in the light of these time-tested observations.

When the 3-2 judgment was about to come, statements coming from the Sharif camp were ominous. Sweets were prepared in advance. Gaining a 2-month period was considered a big victory and celebrated.

Then started the JIT formation process and proceedings. Immediately mixed signals started coming.

As the JIT has progressed, bitterness has increased manifold and has even begun to overflow, turning into direct threats, some veiled and some blatant. These are not good , still ominous signs.

Party workers are obviously under pressure and duty-bound to defend their leaders although in no democratic country the political cadres or establishments come to rescue leaders accused of illegal or criminal acts. But Pakistani politics is a bit twisted and convoluted.

More worrying, however, is the fact when media persons or groups, supposed to be neutral, objective and independent, throw their weight behind one party or another, on flimsy issues in a blatantly biased and repugnant manner, it proves they are wearing even more see-through lingerie than their naked benefactors.

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