New Age Islam Staff Writer
Released After Five Months Of Captivity To Serve A Threatening Message To Other
Journalists Of Pakistan
1. Journalists in
Pakistan are threatened, harassed, abducted and killed regularly.
2. Pakistan ranks
150 in the World Press Freedom Index out of 180.
3. 53 Pakistani
journalists have been killed from 2012 to 2022.
Sajid Hussain and Arshad Sharif were killed in exile.
5. Sami Ibrahim
was abducted and released after six days.
journalist Anchor-person Imran Riaz Khan has returned home safely after being
missing for nearly five months
Khan, the young Pakistani journalist known for his pro-Imran Khan views has
returned from his captivity under the Pakistani police and agencies after five
months. He had been abducted from Sialkot while on his way to the airport as he
was trying to flee the country to avoid arrest in the aftermath of the May 9
countrywide violent protests. He was arrested on May 11 and was kept in an
unknown place and released on September 26.
and safe return was a matter of great relief for the media community as well
his family because in Pakistan, abducted journalists seldom return alive. But
unfortunately, his safe return was not a cause for rejoicing or celebration.
His health is in a terrible condition: he has lost 22 kg of weight, his hair
has turned white and he can't speak fluently. His speech has been affected the
most. He has become very thin and people who have hugged him say they felt his
his arrest, he had received threats and had expressed his fears that he might
be arrested any time. He had also said that he had received the threat that he
would not be able to speak. But he had not anticipated what they had meant. Now
that he has lost speech, it has become clear what the establishment meant. They
have made him speechless.
In the last
five months, the courts intervened and ordered the IG, Punjab to find Imran's
whereabouts and ensure his release but the Punjab police feigned ignorance and
denied any knowledge of his whereabouts. They also said that his location was
found in Afghanistan.
political analysts have said that Imran Reyaz Khan might have been meted out
mental torture more than physical torture. Imran himself said that he was not
allowed to see the sunlight for five months. He was also not allowed internet
or newspapers. He did not know that the Shahbaz Sharif government had gone.
Khan's case shows a new trend in the persecution of journalists in Pakistan. He
has been allowed to return in a miserable and pitiable condition for him to
serve as a message to the journalists: Beware or you will face the same fate.
For a print journalist, his pen is his most effective tool and for a TV or YouTube
journalist, his voice or speech is his most precious tool. When he is deprived
of it, he is a living dead. The establishment did not kill him. It only took
away his power of speech and left him at his home.
has instilled fear among other journalists of Pakistan.
to the life of journalists are not new in Pakistan. It has ranked 150 out of
180 in the World Press Freedom Index. Pakistan has become a real killing field
of journalists. Only in the last ten years, 53 journalists have been killed in
Pakistan and the perpetrators were convicted in only two cases.
Sindh and Punjab are the provinces where most of the killings have taken place.
Journalists receive threats from the government as well as non- state actors
for their reporting on corruption, misgovernance, terrorism and sectarianism.
They are harassed, threatened, abducted and even killed. Many of them are
removed from their job under pressure of the government. No government is a
saint. They were harassed and threatened in both PML -N and PTI governments.
However, the intensity and magnitude of persecution of journalists increased
during the last tenure of Shahbaz Sharif from 2022 to 2023.
example, Ilyas Samoo of Sindh was arrested for reporting on flood affected
areas of Thatta exposing the failure of the administration in providing relief.
Farooqui of Bol News was arrested for his anti-state statements. Waqar Satti
was charged with blasphemy and defamation. The Shabaz Sharif government
cancelled the license of Bol News for telecasting news of the opposition PTI.
of harassment has compelled many journalists to refrain from reporting on
politics, crime, terrorism, governance and religious extremism.
May 9 violent protests, the crackdown on journalists intensified. They were
booked under sedition and terror charges. Shahin Sehbai, Wajahat Sayeed Khan,
Moeed Peerzada, Sabir Shakir, Adil Raza and Syed Haider Raza were charged with
sedition. They had to leave Pakistan to avoid arrest or are already living in
exile. Arshad Sharif, a journalist living in exile in Nairobi was killed. His
family claim that the Pakistan government was involved in his killing. Another
journalist in exile Sajid Hussain was killed in Sweden some time back. It shows
that the Pakistani journalists are not safe even in exile from the long hand of
journalists from exile do not belong only to Pakistan, their number is
increasing. Journalists from South Asian, African and central Asian countries
have taken asylum in North American and European countries to avoid threat to
their life and therefore a new genre of journalism and media called exile journalism
and exile media hs emerged.
Ibrahim was abducted and released after six days in July.
condition of Journalism in Pakistan, Furqan Khan writes in the South Asian
the past past decade, limiting the press has been done using different means
including new legal mechanisms, physical coercion, violence against
journalists, and media blackouts. While politicians may promise to improve
press freedoms out of office, the press environment has continued to weaken
over successive administrations. For instance, the PML-N promised to enact a
journalists’ protection law in its 2013 election manifesto but this remained on
hold throughout its tenure until 2018. Instead, in 2016, Pakistan’s National
Assembly approved the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Bill (2015), which
allowed for “sweeping censorship of the internet” and was criticized especially
for giving substantial power and discretion to enforcement agencies. That same year,
Pakistan was ranked among the 10 worst countries for internet freedom and
fourth among the 10 worst countries for journalists. 157 attacks on journalists
were reported between May 2017 and April 2018 during the last years of the
PML-N tenure. Earlier, there were also armed attacks on senior journalists
Hamid Mir in 2014 and Cyril Almeida in 2016. Almeida was “barred from leaving
the country” following his report on a civil-military row in what famously
became known as the “Dawn Leaks.”
has not only failed on the economic and educational front but has also failed to
uphold the values of freedom of expression and democracy. Journalists are the
most affected and persecuted group because they engage directly with the
government and expose corruption, protest against injustice and the
highhandedness of politicians. The case of Imran Reyaz Khan has marked a new
low in the persecution of journalists in Pakistan.
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