FN Threat Data Analysis – July 2021
Seven cases of threats ranging from detention to injuries, offline harassment and legal cases against journalists Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Punjab, Sindh and Islamabad against journalists were monitored and documented during July 2021 by Pakistan Press Club Safety Hubs Network programme, an award-winning civil liberty organization Freedom Network is managing since early 2016.
Islamabad-based Freedom Network is assisting journalists at risks in four different categories in partnership with five press clubs in Karachi, Lahore, Quetta, Islamabad and Peshawar under Pakistan Press Club Safety Hub Network programme since February 2016.
DETENTION: ASI Ahsan and two constables of Nelur Police Station detained Muhammad Usman of Samaa News and Malik Irfan of 24 News channels on 7 July 2021. The two journalists went to report a story about booking a man for an alleged offense. As Usman began making video of the scene through his mobile phone the police stopped him. The police arrested him and also caused some injuries to the journalist for which Usman was shifted to Poly Clinic Hospital in Islamabad. Police kept Irfan in the police station. The police said the two journalists interfered in their duties – the claim both journalists deny. When the issue was taken up with senior police officials they suspended the ASI and two constables and an inquiry was ordered.
INJURED: Reporter Asghar Jafri of Aghaz-e-Safar newspaper reported torture by police after he was booked in fake FIR against him on 4 July 2021 in Rahim Yar Khan district in Punjab province. The journalist run a number of alleged corruption stories against Pakistan People’s Party Punjab Assembly MPA Raees Nabeel who influenced local police to get the journalist booked in fake case. “My nails were taken out using manual gadget by cops at Bhong Police Station,” the journalist told Freedom Network. His location, through geofencing, was somewhere else and not there mentioned in the FIR. “During torture, cops were asking me to not publish any story against MPA Raees Nabeel,” the journalist went on to say.
When Freedom Network took up the issue with senior Punjab Police officials an inquiry was ordered. Investigation findings were awaited.
ASSAULT: A group of shopkeepers in Peshawar beat up GTV News channel’s reporter Abdul Rehman and cameraperson Ashfaq Hussain while they were on professional duty on Warsak Road in Peshawar on 16 July 2021. “We were filming and of the shopkeeper got anger and he started attacking us while calling on fellow shopkeepers to join,” the GTV News crew told Freedom Network. The camera of GTV was damaged in the attack.
OFFLINE HARASSMENT: Ihtisham Mufti, senior journalist working with Express group, was tortured on 27 July 2021 in Karachi by police. He was on his way home from workplace when the Bilal Colony Police official ASI Dil Nawaz-led party stopped him. Mufti introduced himself as journalist nut the official resorted to violence against the journalist. He was taken to Bilal Colony Police Station where he was treated inhumanly. The issue was taken up with senior leadership of Sindh government and Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah ordered investigation. It found the cops guilty of violating law and they were suspended. “I don’t know why the police resorted to violence,” Ihtisham Mufti told Freedom Network.
LEGAL CASES: Former president of Shikarpur Press Club Sultan Rind was arrested on 19 July 2021 after a Sindh Minister Imtiaz Sheik’s personal assistant got a case registered against the journalist. The case was registered after the journalist reported alleged corruption in government-funded development project. The journalist is associated with AbbTakk News channel.
Senior TV anchor Nadeem Malick was summoned 3 July 2021 by Federal Investigation Agency’s anti-terrorism wing to question him about revelation he made in his show about alleged corruption cases against former prime minister Nawaz Sharif. The summon invited widespread condemnation from the journalist community and media right groups, including Freedom Network. The journalist challenged the summon and declined to appear before the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) which is more being used to silence critical journalists and YouTubers in the country under controversial PECA law. The FIA did not take next step after the journalist’s refusal to appear. There is a status quo in this case so far.
Click link to read June 2021 threat data analysis
Threats, Attacks Against Various Types of Media
Among the seven cases documented during July 2021 included five TV and two print journalists.
Threat Actors Attacking and Harassing Journalists and Media:
In five out of seven cases taken place against journalists involved state actors – police and FIA – and in one case Sindh minister while in remaining single case involved non-state actor – shopkeeper.
Image courtesy: Google Images