Fourteen threat Cases, Including Attempted Murder, Against Journalists Reported in July 2023
FN Threat Data Analysis – July 2023
Two journalist survived threat to murder, one survived attempt to murder, one journalist faced assault to injury, two digitals, one kidnapping and five detained while two faced legal actions as a total of 14 cases of various threat categories against journalists were monitored and documented during July 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.
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa topped the list of violations with nine cases out of 14 cases while Sindh (02), Azad Jammu and Kashmir (02) and Baluchistan recorded one violation.
THREAT TO MURDER: Khyber News, Peshawar, crew including reporter Malik Ismail and cameraperson Sardar Ali Yousafzai received a complaint from the locals that a local quack Doctor Haider Ali was busy in some “illegal activities.” When the team visited the clinic of the doctor on 14 July 2023 the doctor threatened the crew members and said he would order his security guard to kill them both. Later, official of Health Department also reached the spot and asked the quack to produce legal documents to which he failed. The quack doctor was arrested by local police for threatening the journalists.
ATTEMPT TO MURDER: Samiullah, a cameraman of Geo News based in Bajaur tribal district along border with Afghanistan was seriously injured due to a suicide bomb blast on 30 July 2023 during a meeting of Jamiat ulema Islam (Fazal) JUI-F. Samiullah was rushed to a local hospital in Timarghara for treatment, but due to unavailability of adequate health facilities, he was relocated to Peshawar for treatment. Hasbaullah Khan, bureau chief of Geo News channel, told Freedom Network that Samiullah was not feeling well and underwent a surgery in Peshawar. His condition is now stable, according to the bureau chief.
DIGITAL THREAT: Murtaza Zehri, the reporter for Voice of America Urdu in Quetta, was trolled by social media team of Balochistan National Party (BNP) on 23 July 2023 for his reporting on clashes in one of districts of Baluchistan provinces. Murtaza Zehri said that the ongoing feud in Wadh area involving Baluchistan National Party (BNP) chief Akhtar Mengal is a tribal dispute. He was trolled for referring to the clashes as tribal feud.
Karachi-based senior journalist Shoaib Jatt, working as sports journalist and associated with ARY News channel as anchor and special correspondent, was threatened several times on social media due to his report regarding the poor captaincy of Pakistan cricket team on 13 July2023. Lot of people responded to his online story and the journalist also received life threats for his report. The journalist contacted FIA cyber-crime office in Karachi but so far no action was taken on his complaint.
ASSAULT WITHOUT INJURY: Senior photojournalist Shahzad Ahmed working for Daily Wahdat, Peshawar, was assaulted by local administration on 13July 2023 on orders of Assistant Commissioner Rao Hashim, while covering protest of teachers in front of Government High School No. 1, GT Road, Peshawar. The journalist community asked senior administration officials to take immediate action against the assistant commissioner Rao Hashim.
ACTUAL LEGAL ACTION: Two Azad Jammu & Kashmir-based journalists have been booked in a defamation case on 27 July 2023 in District Heveli. The FIR was launched by the superintendent of local District Session Court that journalist Majid Afsar, reporter with Sada-e-Chinar and Ijaz Khan, working with Kashmir Express, allegedly maligned the judge of the court through social media campaign. According to detail, A young girl was murdered in the area and an influential person was identified in her murder case. The civil society and media launched campaign demanding justice for the deceased girl. The police were allegedly favoring the influential. When the civil society and the reporters highlighted the issue on social media, judge of district session judge launched an FIR against the journalists through the superintendent of the court.
DETENTION: Four Journalists and one cameraman were stopped from covering a political meeting and detained by the local authorities in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on 17 July 2023 when former parliamentarians of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf along with former federal minister for defence Pervez Khattak organized an event in local hotel to announce their own new separate political party. Reporter Sajad Haider of Saama News, reporter Arif Hayat of Dawn News, reporter Zeeshan KakaKhel of 92 News and Hassan, cameraman of 92 News channels in Peshawar reached the meeting venue for coverage they were stopped from covering the event and asked them to leave the spot by the plainclothes officials of a security agency. The officials snatched their mobile phones and cameras and also detained them in local police station. The journalists were later released after the interference the community intervened.
KIDNAPPING: Daily Jang Karachi reporter Syed Muhammad Askari was abducted on 8 July 2023 by unknown officials but police expressed ignorance about his abduction. Askari was abducted near Qayyumabad Interchange while returning from a function late at night.
An unknown masked official dressed in plain clothes took away Askari without giving any reason from Qayyumabad interchange. The journalist introduced himself to the officials but they didn’t listen to him an instead beat him up and put him in a van.
The reporter was later recovered after intervention of Sindh Commission for Protection of Journalists and Other Media Practitioners (CPJMP) upon a request from Freedom Network. After an emergency meeting of CPJMP Chairman Justice Retd Rasheed A Rizvi and committee showed deep concern over the frequent incidents of kidnapping of journalists. CPJMP Chairman issued immediate order to the Sindh Home Secretary and the Inspector General of Police Sindh to recover SM Askari within 24 hours and directed that a report regarding the incident be submitted to the commission within 36 hours. Syed Muhammad Ansari returned home a day after he was allegedly picked up by police and men in plain clothes in Karachi. After his return, the journalist said he was blindfolded and his abductors questioned him about his profession.
Threats, Attacks, and Harassment against Various Types of Media:
Seven TV, five print journalists and two digital journalist received threats during July 2023.
Threat Actors Attacking and Harassing Journalists and Media:
Ten state actors, three other and one unknown threat actor were believed involved in these threats these journalists faced.