Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists Goes Unchecked In Pakistan

FN Threat Data Analysis – August 2019

A journalist in Punjab province was killed at doorstep while two others survived attempted murder in Balochistan and Sindh provinces while five others faced attacks, kidnapping and verbal threats monitored and documented during August 2019 period under Pakistan Press Club Safety Hub Network, managed by media watchdog organization Freedom Network.

A total of eight violations were documented. Among the eight cases documented two each in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Punjab and Sindh provinces seven had taken place while one each in Balochistan and federal territory Islamabad.

KILLED: Mirza Waseem Baig, reporter of 92 News channel in Sarai-e-Alamgir town in Jhelum district of Punjab province, was killed by “unknown persons” at his doorstep on 31 August 2019 and murderers escaped after the incident, First Information Report, obtained by Freedom Network, read. He was the first journalist killed in Punjab province this year.  

“He died on his way to hospital,” the bereaved family told the police. No arrests were made so far as accused were unknown. There was little information about the motive of his murder. However, the deceased journalist was “a brave man” and he “refused to get bogged down,” according to his colleagues.

ATTEMPT TO KILL: Jamil Ahmed, senior sub-editor of Daily Azadi newspaper in Quetta office, was shot and wounded on Saryab Road on 31 August 2019. He is under treatment in a hospital as he received four bullets. The family nominated unknown persons in the First Information Report with the local police. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack.  

Balochistan Union of Journalists and Quetta Press Club condemned the attack on journalist’s life demanding “quick action” by the government to arrest the accused.  

On 18 August 2019, senior journalist Hameed Bhutto came under attack near Korangi town in Karachi when he was returning from morning show programme at Sindhi-language Dharti TV channel. “Two motorcyclists opened fire at him. But the journalist and his colleague Gulzar Bangwar, director news of of Dharti TV, remained unhurt,” according to eyewitness acoount. An First Information Report was registered with Korani Police Station against unknown attackers. However, no arrest was made yet.

INJURED: Cameraman Kamran Khan of Samaa TV in Peshawar, received arms injuries as a result of attack by security personnel of Peshawar Development Authority (PDA) in Peshawar on 26 August 2019. He was filming construction of Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) when Khan was attacked. He identified himself as journalist to the security personnel of BRT being built under PDA supervision.  

After Freedom Network and journalists’ representative bodies took strong note of the incident PDA took action against the accused dismissing from the services for “committing crime” two days after the attack on the cameraman.

ABDUCTION: Young journalist Muneeb Ahmed was whisked away from his residence in arachi on 10 August 2019 by people, some dressed in Rangers and Karachi Police uniform, his wife Isbah Muneeb told Freedom Network. She was able to locate her spouse after three days when the journalist, who runs Piyara Watan newspaper, was handed over to Police who charged him with extortion. The journalist denies the charge and alleges he was punished for reporting mafias in Karachi.

OFFLINE HARASSMENT: Railway Police, led by Deputy Superintendent of Police Alamgir Shah, stopped crew members of Pushto-language Khyber TV channel when they were reporting anti-encroachment drive on 05 August 2019. Khyber TV reporter Siraj Arif could be seen in a video showing the police official denying the journalist right to report. Both Khyber Union of Journalists and Peshawar Press Club condemned the harassment of the journalist and demanded inquiry against the Railway Police official.

VERBAL THREAT: Daily Ausaf reporter Sajid Mehmood in Khanewal district of Punjab province was issued verbal threats for sharing copy of First Information Report registered against two Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf local laders – Saifullah Pahor and Nasrullah Pahor on 31 August 2019. The two PTI leaders regarded sharing of the FIR as “insult” and threatened the journalist “with dire consequences.” The journalist avoided registering case for the threats he believed the two men were “influential” and “can harm” him.

On 06 August 2019, Saghir Chaudhry, reporter with 24 News TV channel and Secretary Finance of National Press Club (NPC), was making footage of “controversial banners” displayed on Islamabad streets when Islamabad police caught him and forced him to delete banners’ footage. The police chased the journalist in his car and at the gate of NPC, police issued him serious threat to his life if he did not delete all the footages. As the NPC guard tried to stop police vehicle at the gate, the police tortured guard Saher also.

Click link to read July 2019 threat data analysis report:

http://www.fnpk.org/censorship-online-offline-harassment-of-journalists/

PEMRA in Action

Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) served show-cause notices on ARY News (for inviting Indian journalist in morning show), GNN TV news channel and Hum News TV channel for inviting Indian politician in its programme during August 2019. The electronic media regulatory authority also fined Geo News channel for “criticizing” National Accountability Bureau.

Threats, Attacks & Harassment against Various Types of Media

Six of the eight journalists faced threats work for TV channels and remaining two for print media.

Threat Actors Attacking and Harassing Journalists and Media

In Four cases, state actors were suspected involved while in three cases the actors remained unknown and in one case Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf leaders were involved.

Caption: Late Mirza Waseem Baig

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