FN Threat Data Analysis – January 2023
A journalist survived attack on home with hand-grenade, another arrested and one detained while another injured for his reporting. A total of nine cases of various threats categories against journalists were monitored and documented during January 2023 through the Pakistan Press Club Safety Hubs Network programme, an award-winning civil liberty organisation Freedom Network is managing since 2016.
Islamabad-based Freedom Network is assisting journalists at risks in five different categories, including humanitarian assistance, in partnership with five press clubs in Karachi, Lahore, Quetta, Islamabad, and Peshawar and Women Journalists Association of Pakistan, Digital Media Alliance of Pakistan (DigiMAP) and one for minority journalists, under Pakistan Press Club Safety Hub Network programme since February 2016.
ARREST: BOL News Reporter Shahid Aslam was arrested after he was charged under Section 2016 of Pakistan Penal Code for his alleged role in getting tax details of former military chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa for an investigative story. A local court in Islamabad, meanwhile, granted him bail on 18 January 2023. Special Judge Muhammad Azam Khan allowed the journalist’s release for Rs.50,000 surety bond.
Aslam was detained for two days by Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) without prior notice in Lahore on January 13 for his alleged involvement in the leaking of tax records of former army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa. The records were used in a 21 November report by investigative news outlet FactFocus which accused Bajwa and his family of acquiring assets over the past six years, substantiated by tax declarations and other financial details belonging to Bajwa and his family. Authorities have claimed these records were attained illegally.
DETAINED: Dhani Bukshsh, reporter of Daily Express newspaper along with other journalists including Abdullah Mahar and Ghaffar Mahar, went to cover a story of illegal land grabbing on 30 January 2023 near Adda Bundi, Tehsil Sadiqabad, Punjab province. When Dhani and other journalists reached the spot, they were surrounded by around 20-25 people. They snatched Dhani’s camera and he along with his colleagues were beaten up with sticks. The journalists were then undressed and their naked videos were made. The land grabbers then tied their hands and took them to nearby sugarcane field where they were held hostage for many hours. The land grabbers warned these journalists not to publish any news against them. After these journalists were released, they called police helpline (15). The police reached on the spot and took their statements. Police registered FIR against unknown persons under Pakistan Penal Code’s Sections 341, 342, 506, 379 and 148. No arrest has so far been made till filing of this report.
ONLINE HARASSMENT: Sports journalist Shoaib Jatt from Karachi and associated with ARY News as anchor and special correspondent was received threatening messages online for his reporting.
He has reported and did Video logs regarding the poor captaincy of Pakistan cricket team captain Babar Azam. Shoaib has shared this on his Twitter account – @shoaib_jatt. He received the threatening messages through twitter DM, FaceBook messenger and on his Instagram accounts.
After these threats Shoaib personally went to FIA CYBER CRIME office to report the incident but they didn’t respond on it and not even filed a case on his application.
OFFLINE HARASSMENT: Koh Noor News reporter Nouman Chaudhry was picked up by drug mafia from his house, tortured and snatched his mobile on 18 January 2023 after airing a news on selling of contraband drugs and liquor in Dhok Hassoo, Rawalpindi district.
Reporter Nouman Chaudhry filed application against the attackers with police. Koh Noor News Rawalpindi Bureau Chief Iftikhar Ali Bhatti backed his reporter and submitted complaint with Ratta Police Station.
On 25 January 2023, 24 News reporter Irshad Qureshi was harassed during a press conference of former federal minister Shaikh Rasheed in Rawalpindi. Shaikh Rashid got angry of his question and replied arrogantly that you would not be allowed for “irrelevant questions.” Shaikh Rasheed threatened him with getting him “jobless.”
The said reporter has lost his job from Jang group on the direction of Shaikh Rasheed when he was Interior Minister in PTI led government. RIUJ and NPC strongly condemned the ridiculous behavior of Shaikh Rasheed.
On 30 January 2023, Bol News correspondent Zahid Farooq Malik was reached Faisal Mosque for news coverage of political party Jamiat Ulma-e-Islam (F). Organizers inquired about identity of the journalist who showed his office press card. Seeing BOL News channel press card, some workers called the journalist “lair”. The journalist protested against derogatory remarks and said that he was there on their invitation. The JUI-F workers pushed him out from the venue and also snatched his mobile. The workers misbehaved and barred him from doing his professional duty.
INJURED: TV Today reporter Rana Muhammad Shahnawaz along with other journalists including Asif Iqbal, Irfan Rasheed, Sami Ullah, went to cover operation launched by Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB) on on 22 January 2023 against encroachment in Nankana Sahib, Punjab province. The accused got furious and attacked the TV Today crew. Shahnawaz’s right shoulder was injured in the attack. Shahnawaz’s colleagues and other ETPB officials rescued Shahnawaz. The reporter registered his complaint with police for action against the perpetrators. FIR was lodged 23 January 2023 and Nazir and his supporters were arrested.
BANNED: The National Assembly Secretariat banned entry of YouTubers, TikTokers and other social media influencers in the precinct of Parliament House. This decision was taken after some influencers misbehaved with some parliamentarians. Press Reporters Association said that it was only responsible for its members and distanced itself from the YouTubers and social media influencers.
Threats, Attacks, and Harassment against Various Types of Media:
Eight TV and One print journalist faced the nine cases of threats during January 2023.
Threat Actors Attacking and Harassing Journalists and Media:
Two state actors, two political parties, a criminal gang, two unknown, and two others (local armed groups) were believed behind these threats these journalists faced.
Caption: Scene of damage after hand-grenade attack on residence of tribal journalist in Parachinar.