Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) social media head Azhar Mashwani went missing outside his house on Thursday when he was taking a cab to Zaman Park. His brother has lodged an FIR of his kidnapping. PTI has alleged that Azhar has been illegally abducted by the authorities. It is indeed quite alarming that three days have passed since he went missing from Lahore and yet there is no news about his whereabouts. Imran Khan has condemned the police in Punjab and Islamabad for “breaking all laws with impunity as they target PTI”. The recent targeting of PTI leaders and workers, including Fawad Chaudhry, Hassaan Niazi, and now Mashwani shows that our political parties have not learnt anything and will do the same when they come in power which they condemned when they were at the receiving end of the same treatment during the regime of their political opponents.

Two wrongs don’t make a right is something we often hear, but we don’t see this being professed in Pakistan. Witnessing the wrongs in the politics of Pakistan, it is safe to say that no one learns from past mistakes. For years, we have seen politics in our country. The people in power change, and their faces change, but their means and tactics to settle scores remain the same, and this vicious cycle continues. In the last few months, we have seen how the PTI leaders and workers have been arrested on frivolous charges just like workers and leaders of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) or others when the PTI was in power. For years now, we have seen some very powerful sectors influencing decision-making both in politics and otherwise. The political arena is overshadowed by these mighty decision-makers and their idea of politics. Every time a politician is arrested to silence him or her, it just shows a flagrant disregard for the law of the land.

An arrest should only be made if, and only a crime has been committed or one is found guilty of any wrongdoing. Arrests on frivolous charges are not the answer to silence opinion. Democratic countries allow dissent. We have seen journalists and activists being arrested or picked up because of their views and opinions. The PDM government, which was a victim of such brutal policies in the past, has now made it abundantly clear that it will go to the same lengths to arrest Khan and his supporters. However, this vicious cycle must end. It is the responsibility of the political class to decide if they want to continue with settling scores and political victimisation or they want to put a stop to it. All politicians, be they in the government or the Opposition, need to unite on this point. Otherwise, such arrests and disappearances will continue. This culture must stop and change because political arrests will get us nowhere. A country facing multiple crises – from economic to political – needs stability. Not more chaos.