Journalists Abducted, Arrested, Detained & Harassed

FN Threat Data Analysis – September 2021 

Journalists were abducted, detained, arrested, attacked and harassed as eight cases of threats against journalists were monitored and documented during September 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.

ABDUCTION: Daily Express newspaper columnist Waris Raza was taken away from his residence in Karachi on 22 September 2021. He was freed hours after a strong reaction from the journalist community threatening sit-in if Haris did not return home. Waris told Freedom Network that some “officials in (Sindh) Rangers’ uniform and others in civil dress came to his home in four vehicles around 2am. “First, they took my wallet and mobile phone and confirmed my identity and then taken to an unknow location blindfolded.” The abductors asked him: “Are you against the hybrid system? Is that really bad?” The journalist was asked why he was “against (proposed) Pakistan Media Development Authority. Waris said some 15 men asked him same question 15 times to get him confused. “You are a brave man, but think before you speak against the state,” the abductors warned the journalist. “Pressure from the journalist community and my daughter’s strong reaction enabled my freedom from captivity,” Waris said, adding he would take legal course against abduction.

ARRESTS: Attock Police booked journalist Tanveer Awan under a blasphemy charge on 30 September 2021 after his post. The legal case against the journalist followed by his arrest. Local journalists believed the police wanted the journalist to “punish” for investigative reports exposing local police’s alleged connivance with criminals. The police deny the claim.

Daily Ausaf newspaper’s reporter Amjad Hussain Burcha in Hunza Valley in Gilgit-Baltistan was booked and arrested on 13 September 2021 for his tweet about harassment inside a women police station. The police, according to his colleagues, forced the journalist to “delete” the tweet. He was freed after he removed the harassment tweet.

Police in summer resort town Kalam in Swat district in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province registered two cases to arrest local journalist HM Kalami on 12 September 2021. One case was registered under 7 Anti-Terrorism Act. The journalist highlighted looting of domestic tourists in Kalam region. The journalist secured his bail from a local court, meanwhile. Kalami works for English-language Dawn newspaper and Rose TV channel in Kalam.

DETENTION: Veteran journalist Nadir Shah Adil, 78, was unusually “detained at a hospital” for 18 days on 1 September 2021. The journalist told Freedom Network that he was visited by unknown people at his residence in Lyari in Karachi telling him he “needs to be taken” to hospital for coronavirus treatment. “I was kept a room without any medical treatment,” he said. “I am definitely not a patient. I was taken as hostage, I think so.”

At times, Adil recalled, the unknown people would take him out to watch dance or music performance in the hospital’s courtyard asking “strange questions” about Lyari. After bring in 18 long days captivity causing great “mental disorder,” the journalist was freed to go home with caution: “Apologies for the ordeal, but be careful.”

ATTACK: Two journalists – Mir Altaf and Qadir Malokani – were attacked on 11 September 2021 in Sanghar district, Sindh province. The took place after returning home from a court where they are facing an alleged “fake legal case.” The men caused injuries to the journalists who were taken to hospital for treatment. Mir Altaf alleged a local Pakistan People’s Party leader was behind attack on them. “The PPP leader is angry with us because of our reporting,” he told Freedom Network.

VERBAL THREAT: MPA Muhammad Asif Khan, focal person to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa chief minister, hurled 02 September 2021 verbal threats at journalist Musarratullah Jan for post about low standard construction work in his constituency. The journalist said he posted on his social account the low standard development work in the constituency of the member of provincial assembly. “He (the focal person) not only threatened me but also abused me,” the journalist said who provided audio clip to confirm his claim of verbal threats the MPA hurled at him. Peshawar Press Club and Khyber Union of Journalists condemned the threats and demanded action against the MPA.

FIRING: Unidentified gunmen opened fire at house of Bol News TV channel correspondent Sibghatullah Mughal and Samaa News channel correspondent Ahmed Mughal on 27 September 2021 near University Police Station in Dera Ismail Khan city. Wife of Ahmed Mughal was reported injured in the fire, local journalists confirmed to Freedom Network. Faraz Mughal, son of Ahmed Mughal, said the attackers called themselves as “members” of banned militant outfit “Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan.” Local police registered a case and no arrest is made so far.

Click link to read August 2021 threat data analysis

Threats, Attacks Against Various Types of Media

Five print and three electronic media journalists experienced these cases during September 2021.

Threat Actors Attacking and Harassing Journalists and Media:

In five cases, banned militant outfit TTP, Sindh Rangers, Police and member of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly were reported suspects while in three other cases the threat actors remained untraceable.

Image courtesy: Google Images

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