I am at a loss. I can’t understand what is it about me that fascinates the Pakistani government or makes it obsess over me so much. I left Pakistan in December 2018 and am leading a quiet life in the UK. Yet, the establishment hasn’t stopped hounding me.
Just a few days ago, a friend sent me some screenshots of Pakistani media channel ARY and asked what the case against me was, and what ‘dehshatgardi’ I had done. I was stunned. I asked around if these were fake screenshots. “No, Gul, this is breaking news on ARY right now,” I was told.
I was numb. The organisations for which I draft statements were scrambling to issue statements of protest in solidarity with me. There was condemnation over the ‘notice’ all around, but I still didn’t know what this was all about. Several news organisations contacted me and I told them that I had not received any notice from the FIA or any other organisation. Finally, Dawn published my version. I was still waiting to be contacted, even as the world was being told that I was going to be slapped with terrorism charges. A media trial had begun.
I have obviously not taken any action yet. I can do so only after I have received the actual notice. And I plan to take the FIA to court if it actually issues a notice to me. Twitterati and news analysts not only expressed solidarity with me, but also had a field day laughing at this ludicrous news.
The show wasn’t even over when reporter Murtaza Ali Shah of Geo News and The News International broke the news Saturday that the Imran Khan government had written a four-page letter to the UK government alleging that I was using the British soil to incite violence against Pakistan, spreading hatred, maligning it, and creating divisions in the country.
It was another shock to me. As reported by the journalist, the language used in the letter (which I haven’t seen yet) contained typical fauji terms like “inimical activities”, and seeks an investigation into my “lifestyle”. Having realised it may not be successful in bringing me back to Pakistan via the FIA, the Imran Khan regime wrote directly to the government in the UK, hoping that action will be taken against me here. I am wondering if those in power in Pakistan think the UK government is as big a duffer as they are. Yes, we have Boris Johnson at the helm here but he is not the one and all. Murtaza spat out his Coke laughing while reading the letter.
But the serious concerns are these: they are hounding me; slapping me with made-up charges or trying to get that done by the UK government; the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) wing of the Pakistan embassy in the UK is trying to sniff out my residential address. They are trying anything and everything.
A few months ago, through this publication, ThePrint, I tried to communicate to the Pakistani government about ending this bullying; about talking; about resolving our disagreements. But no one paid heed. The bullying continues. And if they continue on this path, what do they expect me to do? Shower flower petals on them? I will always answer them in the same coin.
I hear they are very angry with me because they think I am one of their own – a general’s daughter and another general’s daughter-in-law. Why this should put me in their category is beyond me. I have never slept with the enemy. I am no Hamid Mir, no Ehsanullah Ehsan, no Colonel Imam. They have done their best to get me to collaborate with them, offered top slots in top media channels – but I have always refused. Even under incarceration.
I was in their safe house and under their control in 2018 when they asked me if I would toe their line if they put me on prime time TV. I said No. Then they asked me again in the car (when they were taking me back home after my abduction) and also threatened me with my son’s life, “Aitchison jata hai na (he goes to Aitchison, doesn’t he?)”, they said, referring to his school. “Uss ko kuchh ho gaya toh hum se na gila karna (if something happens to him, then don’t complain to us).” I replied, “No, you must be out of your minds.” They literally threatened to kill my son.