28 TV channels served notices for ECP CoC ‘Violations’
FN Threat Data Analysis – July 2018
Nine cases of abduction, arrest/harassment, attack, verbal threats, censorship, attack on home and legal cases were reported during July 2018 against journalists and media houses across Pakistan under Pakistan Press Club Safety Hub Network, managed by media watchdog organization Freedom Network.
Freedom Network is assisting journalists at risks in four different categories in partnership with eight press clubs in Karachi, Lahore, Quetta, Islamabad and Peshawar besides Khuzdar in Balochistan, Landikotal and Sukkur under Pakistan Press Club Safety Hub Network programme since February 2016.
Federal capital Islamabad has recorded most cases of these violations – four out of nine – while Sindh two and one each in Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab provinces respectively. The most serious case of violation was disappearance of Baloch journalist in Kohlu while widespread censorship of electronic media was during and after Elections2018.
ABDUCTION: Zaibdar Marri, correspondent of AabTakk TV channel and president of Kohlu Press Club, was abducted on July 13 and reason for his disappearance was said to be covering election activities of Baloch leader Gazzin Marri who just returned from exile. The journalist returned home 12 days later – ElectionsDay July 25. Marri avoids discussing his abduction and stays completely silent.
ASSAULTS: Journalists representing some 16 TV channels and newspapers were beaten up on July 1 when they arrived in the Convention Centre where they were to cover Workers’ Convention of Pakistan Tehree-e-Insaf. These journalists told Freedom Network that the PTI invited the media teams for coverage and when they reached the venue first they were denied entry and then party workers began beating them up for no reason. The media teams boycotted the convention and PTI leader Asad Umar tendered apology. Shakir Abbasi, Neo TV reporter, received minor injuries during the attack of the PTI workers.
Cameraman Kamran Paracha, working for Dunya News channel in Mingora, was attacked by workers of Pakistan Muslim League (N) in Mingora during Shahbaz Sharif’s public meeting in Mingora on July 21. “My camera was also damaged during the unexplained attack,” Paracha said. Roznamcha report was registered but police made no arrest yet.
Reporter Chand Nawab of 92News channel was attacked on July 3 at Karachi Airport by workers of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf. The journalist was at the airport to cover arrival of PTI leader Imran Khan. Journalists protested the PTI workers’ attack. However, police did not book any attacker.
BREAK-IN: Mehreen Zahra Malik, Islamabad-based journalist who write for the New York Times, has had “uninvited guest(s)” at her residence in Islamabad on Friday – July 27, 2018 – as she found window “opened” and someone broke in but took away nothing. In her op-ed piece for The Washington Post, she wrote: “On Friday evening I drove back home to Islamabad after covering Pakistan’s July 25 general elections from the eastern city of Lahore. As I fumbled in my purse for my keys, the front door rattled and I heard footsteps on the other side. Nothing was missing. In the lounge, we found one window, which locks from the inside, open. One officer said that maybe the intruder had left through that window.” She told Freedom Network that the intrusion was “a message” and she was worried for her security now.
VERBAL THREATS: Details of verbal threats a journalist received could not be shared as the journalist believed it would increase his risk.
CENSORSHIP: Police did not allow media to cover Capt (Retd) Safdar’s appearance in a National Accountability Court in Rawalpindi on July 8. Security reason was cited to refuse media entry. The journalists rejected the excuse and marked the decision as “restriction on press freedom.”
LEGAL CASES: Lahore Development Authority (LDA) sealed the South Asian Free Media Association’s Secretariat on July 31 under alleged “illegal commercial activities” inside the building – the charge SAFMA representative Imtiaz Alam rejects totally. He said SAFMA is imparting professional training to journalists and there were no commercial activities on SAFMA premises.
Daily Jehan Pakistan reporter Muhammad Najib Malik was booked for his story on alleged involvement of police officials in pre-poll rigging. The story named three officials who lodged FIR against the editor and the reporter under PPC Sections 500, 501, 502 and 109. Crime and Court Reporters Association, backed by Rawalpindi-Islamabad Union of Journalists, filed counter-FIR against the three officials. Senior police official DIG Yasin intervened to convince both sides to withdraw their complaints and they agreed.
PEMRA ACTIONS: Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) served show-cause notices on 28 news and current affairs and entertainment channels for alleged violation of Code of Conduct Election Commission of Pakistan framed for political parties and their leaders for Elections2018. Aaj News, ARY News, DIN News, Geo News, Samaa TV, News One were alleged to have violated the CoC of the ECP while Samaa TV, 7 News, BOL News, DIN News, Express News, News One, Sach TV, Channel 24, 92 News, Aaj News, A Plus, ARY Digital, ARY News, AVT Khyber, Public News, Royal News, Roze News, TV One, Urdu One, Waqt News, Neo News, Hum News were alleged to have violated the CoC of the ECP by showing political advertisement of political parties
Threats, Attacks & Harassment against Various Types of Media
Of the nine documented cases targeted six journalists from TV channels while two from print media and the ninth case related to media institution’s building.
Threat Actors Attacking and Harassing Journalists and Media
State actors, Pakistan Muslim League-N and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf workers were alleged to have been involved in these violations while in abduction case the threat actor remained unknown as neither the journalist nor his family shared any clue about the abductors.
Image Caption: Zaibdar Marri, correspondent of AabTakk TV channel and president of Kohlu Press Club.