FN Threat Data Analysis – April 2020
Two journalists escaped attempt on their lives as a total of 15 violations, including arrests, detention, offline harassment, assaults, verbal threats and legal cases, were documented during April 2020 by Pakistan Press Club Safety Hubs Network programme, award-winning civil liberty organization Freedom Network is managing since its start.
Islamabad-based Freedom Network is assisting journalists at risks in four different categories in partnership with seven press clubs in Karachi, Lahore, Quetta, Islamabad, Peshawar, Landikotal besides Khuzdar in Balochistan under Pakistan Press Club Safety Hub Network programme since February 2016.
Five out of 15 cases were reported from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, four from Islamabad, two each from Balochistan and Punjab while one each from Sindh and AJK.
ATTEMPTS TO MURDER: Quetta-based local newspaper Daily Awaz Editor Dad Shah survived petrol bomb attack on 22 April 2020 on Patel Road in Quetta, provincial headquarters of Balochistan province. No group claimed responsibility for the attack so far. The editor’s car was damaged in the attack.
The attack on the editor comes after Balochistan reported quite calm in last many months. The editor provided little about the attack on his life.
On 22 April 2020, Roze News TV channel cameraman Malik Naqaash while returning home from workplace unknown assailant attacked him with dragger and pistol. He was hit him at his head, back and face which resulted bleeding from head and body injuries.
The photojournalist submitted an application with police against the attackers. Local police started inquiry and made so far no arrest.
ARRESTS: Local police in Dera Ismail Khan arrested 24 News channel’s reporter Tauqeer Zaidi and cameraperson Wajahat Zaidi in connection with reporting “mismanaging” during establishment of quarantine centre for COVID19 patients in Dera city 4 April 2020. During the arrest police also took away all mobile phones from the two journalists. The mobiles have not yet been returned as police say they are sent to Federal Investigation Agency for forensic report. The TV crew was freed after Freedom Network aggressively highlighted the case and a federal minister who comes from the city also intervened.
The two journalists approached Freedom Network to help get their phones back from the police. 22 April 2020, Freedom Network contacted Dera police official Hafiz Wahid Mehmood via phone and inquired him about the cellphones of the journalists. He told Freedom Network that their mobiles were in custody of Federal Investigation Agency in Islamabad.
Abid Jan, a local journalist in Charsadda district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, was arrested 3 April 2020 and detained in local police station in connection with reporting the province’s chief minister’s Large VIP Convoy during his visit to the district to review arrangements fro COVID19 for corona patients.
Sabz Ali Tareen, for Charsadda Press Club president, said the that journalist was arrested on account of a written complaint filed by his fellow journalist colleague Faiz Mohammad. However, the main cause of Abid Jan’s arrest was his reporting about the large VIP convoy of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Mehmood Khan during his Charsadda visit. However, after senior local journalist involved a “compromise” was reached between Abid Jan and Faiz Mohammad and the arrested journalist was released by a court.
DETAINED: Local journalist Amin Mashal, working for Pashtu News channel in Charsadda district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, was beaten up and detained by local police on 3 April 2020 during his professional duty. The local journalists blamed police for beating him and later putting him in the lockup. However, on local journalists and Freedom Network’s interference the police freed the detain journalist. Police provided no reason for their action against the journalist who violated no law of the country.
In Sargodha district of Punjab province, AbbTakk News channel’s bureau chief Anees Akram was doing report on open shops in Sargodha city during lockdown against COVID19 when local police detained him 8 April 2020 for making footage on his mobile camera. Earlier, he had police failure in controlling kite flying in Sargodha. The policemen detained the reporter and presented him before Amara Athar District Police Officer (DPO) at her office where she started abusing the reporter. She snatched his mobile and removed all video he had made for the purpose of coverage. Even his bike was also snatched. He was insulted because of his reporting. Later on, his bike was retuned.
On April 24, 2020, Nasir Mazari, a reporter for Daily Khabrain newspaper in Mazari village in Rajanpur district in Punjab province, was making video of police arresting some people in Mazari village. The reporter asked the police raiding team what crime the arrested persons committed. This question got the policemen angry and detained the reporter too. They asked the reporter: “How dared you to ask questions from us.” The reporter was thrown into the police vain and taken to Bangla Ichha Police station. After spending one night at the Police station he was released after a local political bigwig intervened.
Meanwhile, Sach News channel reporter Ashraf Solangi and his cameraman were detained 10 April 2020 in Korangi industrial area in Karachi while covering a protest by factory workers against layoff during COVID19 lockdown.
The factory’s private security personnel detained Ashraf Solangi and his cameraman for “several hours” and threatened until the area police reached and recovered them from the detention of the factory management. The factory management was unhappy at the protest coverage by the TV crew. Local police took no action against the management for illegally detaining the journalists.
OFFLINE HARASSMENT: Woman journalist Nousheen Rahim of Daily Jehan Pakistan newspaper and 24 News TV channel colleague Waleed reporter Chaudhry 17 April 2020 visited Capital Development Authority head office for a follow-up story but they were denied entry by the security staff.
They demanded official notice/advisory by CDA administration to ban media in the building. In response, an official misbehaved with the reporters and used abusive language and also threatened to call police. The reporters submitted written complaint with the chairman CDA against this act, who ordered inquiry and accepted no advisory regarding ban of media in CDA building issued.
ASSAULT: Zahoor Magsi, a senior journalist working for K2 News channel in Sibbi district of Balochistan province, was assaulted by a policeman 13 April 2020. The assault took place when Magsi was covering the quarantine arrangements at a local hospital. A senior police official formed an inquiry committee to probe the matter and the accused policeman was called from duty until the enquiry completes.
LEGAL CASE: Khursheed Baig, reporter of Daily Kashmir Express in Rawlakot, reported 24 April 2020 a COVID19 patient who had been treated in a local private hospital Azad Jammu and Kashmir. The journalists reported that a patient was treated in the hospital but was not recovering. After two days his COVID test was taken and he tested positive. The district hHealth officer directed all staff to be quarantined and the doctor run away to avoid quarantine. The report annoyed the private hospital’s administration and it registered what the journalist called “bogus FIR (First Information Report) with defamation charge.
VERBAL THREATS: Noor Muhammad Banuri, working for Daily Khabrian newspaper from Khar thesil of Bajaur tribal district in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, filed a story for his newspaper in the first week of April and highlighted malpractices and corruption in a road construction project in Khar area of Bajaur district. Upon the publication of the story, the government contractors who were executing the project, made threatening calls to the journalist 8 April 2020 and demanded him to distract from his story and also publish a clarfication from the contractors. Banuri reported the matter to local press club and the issue was taken up with the contractors and mutually resolved the matter.
2 April 2020, a gangster of land mafia hurled “life threat” at reporter Saifullah Saif, working for Daily Marakaz, Islamabad. The reporter filed report on “illegal occupation” of house of a civilian by the land mafia gang in the last week of February 2020. The gang mafia gave him life threat on the follow-up of the story. The gangster even also did opened indiscriminatee fire at his ancestral house in Rawalpindi city. The reporter registered FIR with Airport Police Station and also forwarded an application to Federal Investigation Agency against the accused. Police made no arrest of the accused so far. In last week of March 2020, the accused second time opened fire at the journalist’s house in Islamabad’s sector I-8/3. Taking the second firing incident seriously, he provided all evidence of firing recorded through CCTV camera and a video clip of the assailant who used abusive language against the reporter and life threat to the journalist 2 April 2020. The police arrested the attacker 6 April 2020 and submitted his challan with a local court.
PEMRA in Action
State-run Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) served show-cause notice on Dawn News channel for “airing” not factual news about death of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. It also advised all private TV channels about Ramazan transmission. It also issued “advise” to Neo News TV channel to “stop illegal transmission of news and current affairs content and revert to original programming of entertainment.”
Threats, Attacks & Harassment against Various Types of Media
Of 15 cases documented during April 2020 targeted nine TV and six print media journalists.
Threat Actors Attacking and Harassing Journalists and Media
In nine out of 15 cases documented during April 2020 targeting journalists involved the state actors, in four cases “others” and in two cases the actors were unknown.
Caption: Charsadda Journalist Abid Jan is seen behind the bars.