Prime Minister Imran Khan with his Special Assistant on Information and Broadcasting Lt. Gen. Asim Bajwa (left) and Information Minister Shibli Faraz | Photo:Twitter
Text Size:

Pakistan’s default option for any crisis is to blame India. As a country that relies on conspiracy theories to snuggle out of difficult situations, it was on expected lines that a great Indian saazish was discovered when allegations against Lt Gen (retd) Asim Saleem Bajwa surfaced that his family empire had grown in sync with his rise in the Pakistani military. But how does Pakistan do it? It’s simple: brush every logical critique with the paint of ghaddari – perfidy – and add a bit of India and R&AW into it.

Bajwa toh bahana hai, asal nishana CPEC hai.

Although, the paranoia that the world is conspiring against the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is not new and continues to rear its head because it works like magic. One time, a man in Chitral was booked under blasphemy law for declaring himself a messiah. An official said that it was perhaps some sort of a conspiracy to “sabotage CPEC”. Terrorism that set its roots some 14 years before CPEC’s arrival also became part of the larger “conspiracy” to demolish CPEC.

In former prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s case, we learnt that in Pakistan, you are guilty until proven innocent. Before coming to power, Imran Khan used to ask Sharif to produce receipts for the investments in London. He’d ask him and his family to give talashi (body search) for their ‘stolen wealth’. All that Pakistan’s mainstream media did then was ask for money trails, evidence, property transfers and whatnot.

But all that has withered away. Rules have changed now that Imran Khan is in power.


Also read: What’s Pakistan without Saudi loan, oil and free royal jet rides for Imran Khan?


The story behind it

On 27 August, Fact Focus published an extraordinary account of the businesses of Bajwa family in four countries, which included pizza franchises, companies, real estate and commercial properties. Despite the story being backed by hundreds of documents, Bajwa, the chairman of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on information, found it easy to call it “malicious propaganda”.

The floodgates of conspiracy opened and in came the readymade Indian saazish (conspiracy) to malign Pakistan: ‘How a retired Indian army officer (Major Gaurav Arya) trapped a Pakistani journalist (Ahmad Noorani) into a web of lies’. ‘How’ remains the operative part here. But ‘patriotic’ canines in the controlled media had no interest in asking how — their job was to shoot the messenger.


Also read: The cost of speaking truth to power in Imran Khan’s Naya Pakistan — you might not return home


The chronology

Gaurav Arya, in one of his YouTube shows, claimed that Bajwa owns pizza franchises and other real estate businesses outside Pakistan on 25 July. Now, since the story came out on 27 August — after Arya’s show — it was proof enough of collusion. It doesn’t matter that chatter around what is now called “Bajwa Leaks” began on social media days after PM Imran Khan’s advisors made their assets public on 19 July. Moreover, Bajwa, in his declaration, had said that his wife did not hold any “business capital outside Pakistan”, which was the main premise of the investigation report.

But who cares about the chronology as long as the messenger can be successfully smeared. If there was even a slight possibility of establishing links between Papa John’s franchises and India’s R&AW, then the Pakistani spin masters would have done that too.

ARY News ran a sustained campaign against the journalist, flashing Noorani’s photographs, calling him an Indian agent orchestrating anti-Pakistan propaganda. The campaign worked. Noorani started receiving death threats. His former employer Jang Group, whose owner is currently languishing in jail, published an article asking the Imran Khan government to strip him of his Pakistani citizenship because he was “maligning Pakistan” on the behest of some foreign powers.


Also read: Pakistanis know a lot about Dawood Ibrahim. The don lives in White House, drives a black taxi


Bajwa’s free pass

The irony of ironies is that Bajwa, faced with the severity of the allegations, decided to leave the post of PM’s advisor, which was later turned down. But none of those going after Noorani deem fit to ponder for a second why Bajwa was offering to resign if the charges against him were an Indian saazish. But no, they wouldn’t do that, because the instructions to the freest media in the world were to ‘celebrate’ the resignation as a great precedence, which no leader had set before.

Bajwa’s one-day TV outing with the news anchors showed that he was shaken-if-not-stirred. In one show, he dropped the call after a question; in another, he was edgy over being asked to produce the money trail. “Kaun si (which) money trail,” he snapped back. Later, he began his own Kaun Banega Crorepati with the news anchor, asking him if he has money trail of his house. Interestingly, the same government is currently prosecuting a sitting judge of the Supreme Court, Justice Qazi Faiz Isa, for allegedly concealing his and his family’s assets.

But PM Imran Khan says he is satisfied with Bajwa’s paperless defence and wants him to stay on. It’s a bit odd for a PM who rode to office on the high horse of bringing accountability. That he is okay with Bajwa being the chowkidar of the $64 billion cookie jar is a change no one voted for.

The author is a freelance journalist from Pakistan. Her Twitter handle is @nailainayat. Views are personal.

Subscribe to our channels on YouTube & Telegram

Why news media is in crisis & How you can fix it

You are reading this because you value good, intelligent and objective journalism. We thank you for your time and your trust.

You also know that the news media is facing an unprecedented crisis. It is likely that you are also hearing of the brutal layoffs and pay-cuts hitting the industry. There are many reasons why the media’s economics is broken. But a big one is that good people are not yet paying enough for good journalism.

We have a newsroom filled with talented young reporters. We also have the country’s most robust editing and fact-checking team, finest news photographers and video professionals. We are building India’s most ambitious and energetic news platform. And have just turned three.

At ThePrint, we invest in quality journalists. We pay them fairly. As you may have noticed, we do not flinch from spending whatever it takes to make sure our reporters reach where the story is.

This comes with a sizable cost. For us to continue bringing quality journalism, we need readers like you to pay for it.

If you think we deserve your support, do join us in this endeavour to strengthen fair, free, courageous and questioning journalism. Please click on the link below. Your support will define ThePrint’s future.

Support Our Journalism

8 Comments Share Your Views

8 COMMENTS

  1. You guys can comment how much you want that it is India’s hand in this case. But all the evidence that Major Arya gave was through open source websites which was later bolstered by further evidence given by Noorani. Have guts to go after your elite!!

  2. It is very courageous for Pakistani journalist to write this kind of article. But, this is for consumption of Indian and international readers. I regularly browse Pakistani news websites and do not see such bold articles critical of Generals, who are holy cows there!

  3. Lol
    Theprint why are you wasting your time by peddling lies against Pakistan? Nothing is ggoin to happen. 😁
    All pakistani are aware of your propaganda.
    Try as much as you can. CPEC will rise and shine.

  4. Is it only me or has the Indian TV media also started resembling Pak media? PM Modi’s greatest achievement – bringing India to the level of Pakistan. Under him we have gone from being the fastest growing economy with a large aspirational middle-class to devastated poor people living in a country with no economic prospects. Acche din sach mein aa gaye.

  5. yes, it is a perpetual puzzle for me to understand, how come Pakistan CELEBRATES its entrapment by China.
    Situation is that Chinese civilians in Pakistan has guts to beat Pakistani soldiers and Police personnel.
    Such a financial embazzelment by Asim Bajwa is being shielded, actively, by persons, who matters.

  6. Everyone knows this author herself is a paid artist & she is supposedly trying to lift veil of corruption of others…………what an irony !!!

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here