FN Threat Data Analysis – April 2023
Two journalists survived murder attacks while one faced life threat as a total of eight cases of various threat categories against journalists were monitored and documented during April 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.
ATTEMPT TO MURDER: Two unidentified assailants attacked GNN News crime reporter Muhammad Usman Butt along with Dunya News channel reporter Awais Abbasi on 26 April 2023 near Faizabad bridge. Using irons, the assailants severely damaged windscreen of the car in which the two journalists were travelling. Fortunately, the two reporters remained safe. The journalist could not recognize the attackers because they lost control of the vehicle as a consequence of the attack. “That was target attack on us because of our crime beat,” the two journalists were quoted as saying. An FIR was launched against the unknown attackers with I-9 Police Station, Islamabad.
THREAT To MURDER: Raja Israr Hussain, chief reporter of Daily Tameel, Islamabad, complained that Islamabad Electric Supply Corporation Islamabad IESCO’s contractor Tahir Sindho hurled life threat at him on 03 April 2023. As per the complaint, the reporter contacted the contractor for his version regarding a news about “power supply to illegal housing societies,” the contractor invited the reporter to meet him on Margala Road. During the meeting, the contractor threatened the journalist for any attempt to publish such news. Police registered a case against the accused.
On 13April 2023, Daily Pindi Today published a news regarding illegal business of a housing society in Rawalpindi. CEO Dr. Sharif and GM Marketing Sajjad Khattak threatened regional head of Koh-Noor TV and Daily Pindi Today’s Chief Editor M. Iftikhar Bhatti with kidnapping and threat to life. The chief editor said that he published a news about the housing society with facts. Police did not take yet action against the accused.
DIGITAL THREAT: Saddia Mazhar from digital media The Reporters, filed a right-to-information request with the Sahiwal Club, Sahiwal city in Punjab province. Club Secretary responded with a threatening letter stating that her act of filing the request “constitutes an offense punishable under Section 182 of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC).” The Secretary requested the Commission to file a complaint against Mazhar. This issue was highlighted by the digital media but no action was taken against the management of Sahiwal Club.
Saddia Mazhar also filed a request under right-to-information law with the Excise and Taxation Department in Lahore, and started receiving messages on her mobile from a staff member of the department, who was harassing her.
ASSAULT WITHOUT INJURY: On 29 April 2023, Reporter Shahbaz Khan of Dunya News in Karachi, was covering a fire incident in Liquatabad when policemen tried to stop him. The reporter said he was only doing his duty. SHO Liaquatabad Rashid Ali and Additional SHO Abid Shah along with three to four plainclothes men tortured Shehbaz Khan, forcibly held him trying to take him to police station. According to the reporter, the SHO was allegedly “drunk” but so far. Medical test of the concerned police officers has not yet been conducted. Later, Shahbaz Khan met later SSP Central Maruf Usman and briefed him about the incident. The SSP suspended both the police officials and started a departmental enquiry against them.
DETAINED: ABN News channel’s crime reporter Jamshaid Qadar was stopped from covering an incident on 3 April 2023by SHO Khyzer Hayat in jurisdiction of Sadiqabad Police Station in Rawapindi. The reporter said he was doing his duty. The SHO directed his subordinates to take the reporter away from the spot. On refusing to go away, the SHO ordered subordinates to detain him in police station. The reporter was allowed to go after intervention by his colleagues. The reporter submitted a complaint against the SHO in New Town Police Station, Rawalpindi, but police did not proceed on the application.
ABDUCTED: tribal journalist Badshah Khan Wazir, known as Gohar Wazir, was abducted on 19 April 2023 in broad daylight from Bannu city and freed him 30 hours later with signs of torture on his body. Gohar Wazir, who works for Pashto-language Khyber News channel, reports human rights in Waziristan and Bannu Division. Gohar Wazir was busy for Eid shopping in Bannu Bazar when five armed men came and took him to a waiting vehicle. Gohar was taken to an undisclosed location where he was tortured and threatened with life threats. He was told he should not be reporting violence nor he would highlight human rights abuses in the area. The journalist said he was electrocuted also. He filed a complaint with Bannu City police station for registration of FIR but so far his FIR was not registered.
Threats, Attacks, and Harassment against Various Types of Media:
Five TV and two print journalist and one other media professional faced the eight cases of threats during March 2023.
Threat Actors Attacking and Harassing Journalists and Media:
Four state actors, two other groups and two unknown were believed behind these threats journalists faced during April 2023.
Caption: File photo of tribal journalist Gohar Wazir.