Two Journalists, Including An Afghan, Survive Attempts To Murder

FN Threat Data Analysis – April 2024

Eight cases of different threat categories, including two attempts to murder a Pakistani and an Afghan journalist respectively, cases and harassment of a woman journalist by a provincial government adviser in Peshawar and five legal cases, were monitored and documented during April 2024.

These threat cases against journalists are monitored through Pakistan Press Club Safety Hubs Network programme, award-winning civil liberty organisation Freedom Network is managing since 2016.

The five safety hubs are set up across Pakistan to monitor and document these violations and assist journalists at risks in partnership with five biggest press clubs of the country, including Karachi, Lahore, Quetta, Islamabad and Peshawar.

Digital threats (harassment, trolling, abuse, defamation/disinformation, hate speech, etc.)

Mashal Yousafzai, advisor to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa chief minister harassed female journalist Nadia Sabohi who works for Geo News channel in Peshawar bureau leveling “allegations of corruption” against her after her report about purchase of an expensive vehicle for the adviser went on-air. Advisor Mashal in her social post on April 17 mentioned Naida “demanded money from her and when she refused to give money to her as bribe, Naida reports a false news story on Geo News against her.”

The journalist community and Freedom Network took strong exception to the adviser’s allegations against the woman journalist and demanded unconditional apology if she does not have any evidence against the journalist. Later, media adviser of KP government Barrister Mohammad Ali Saif advisor met with Presidents of Peshawar Press Club and Khyber Union of Journalist and agreed to form a formal committee comprising of both government and journalists’ representatives to solve the issue.  On the decision of the committee, Advisor Mashal Yousafzai came to press club tendering apology to Nadia Sabohi and the issue was amicably resolved.

Attempt to murder (survived assassination attempt)

Khyber TV reporter Mohammad Mudassar was attacked and injured by unidentified assailants on April 2 in Sector I-9 Police Station Area of Islamabad. The incident occurred around 10pm near Kachnar road, I-8 sector, when four individuals riding two motorcycles intercepted Mudassar.

According to the reports the assailants reportedly threatened Mudassar over his media coverage regarding housing societies in Islamabad. When Mudassar tried to escape, one of the attackers struck him on the right leg with a firearm, causing serious injuries. Mudassar was rushed to PIMS Hospital for treatment

Exiled Afghan journalist shot, injured in Islamabad

Exiled Afghan journalist Ahmed Hanayesh working for RFE/RL’s Radio Azadi sustained serious injuries after he was shot by a group of unidentified armed men in G-6 sector of Islamabad on April 4 as he was walking back to his residence after work in Islamabad. Police authorities could not confirm whether this was a case of an armed robbery or a targeted attack.

No arrests are made so far in this case nor the Afghan journalist appears happy with direction of police investigation.

Actual legal action (civil or criminal + specific law)

On April,16, 2024, Rajanpur police registered First Information Report (FIR) against journalist Rao Amir – anchorperson of 7 News channel.  According to police, the journalist “defamed Pak Army and Punjab Police” while airing interview of gang leader Shahid Lund from Kacha area of Punjab. In the live program, the gang leader claimed that all the gangs in his area “purchased weapons from Punjab police.” It was a false report, the police reacted to the claim adding the journalist did not get Punjab police version in his report.

Two different First Information Reports (FIRs) were registered on March 29 against four journalists of Azad Jammu Kashmir region – Aamir Mehboob (Editor), Raja Kafeel (Chief Editor) and Shahzad Rathore (Chief Reporter) from Daily Jammu Kashmir, and Khwaja Kashif Mir (Editor) of Stateviews. Serious charges like sedition, treason, and cybercrime, were reportedly filed at the Secretariat Police Station in Muzaffarabad. This move is seen by many as an attempt to silence dissent and intimidate journalists.

The government formed two monitoring committees under the Ministry of Interior of AJK. These committees, with members from both the Interior and Law Ministries, are tasked with assisting the police in building cases against critical journalists.

Threats, Attacks, and Harassment against Various Types of Media:

Six print and two TV journalist received these threats during April 2024.

Threat Actors Attacking and Harassing Journalists and Media:

Six state actor and two unknown actors were believed involved in these threats these journalists faced.

CAPTION: Khyber TV reporter Mohammad Mudassar is being taken to hospital after he was attacked in Islamabad.

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