A Journalist Murdered In Baluchistan & Three Others Escape Attempt To Kill In Islamabad

FN Threat Data Analysis – October 2021

A journalist in Baluchistan was killed in targeted bomb explosion while three others escaped attempt to murder in Islamabad as a total of 14 cases of threats were registered and documented during October 2021 through 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.

KILLED: Shahid Zehri, a reporter for Metro One news channel in Hub district of Baluchistan bordering Sindh province, was killed in targeted bomb explosion in his car on 10 October 2021 in Hub city, family and police report confirmed. A CCTV footage showed as the journalist took a turn an explosion rocked his care he was driving. An outlawed insurgent group “Baloch Liberation Army” took the claim for this murder. Police registered a case. However, no arrest was made so far.

ATTEMP TO KILL: Three reporters – Ishaq Abbasi of Daily Express newspaper, Asim Mir of Express News TV channel and Azhar Hussain Qazi of Daily 92 newspaper – were travelling near Islamabad on 2 October 2021 when they were stopped by unknown and attacked them. They attackers beaten the three reporters and injured. The attackers attempted to kidnap the reporters. However, their move did not work as heavy traffic frustrated the attackers who also fired in air to spread panic and fears. The three reporters called Rescue 15 and police reached the spot but the attackers fled the scene before police arrival. A case was registered but no arrests have so far been made.

Click link to read September 2021 threat data analysis


DETAINED: Nafees Arain, cameraman of 24 News TV channel in Islamabad, was covering police action against shopkeepers and hotel labors when sub-inspector Mazhar Sial tried to stop him from the coverage on 22 October 2021. When the journalist continued making video through his mobile phone the police official snatched his mobile and attacked him also. He was detained and taken to police station along with protesting shopkeepers and hotel labors. 24 News channel management rushed to the police station to get the cameraman freed. He was ultimately released without any precondition or charge.

ONLINE HARASSMENT: Award-winning journalist Asma Shirazi faced a smear online campaign days after her column for BBC Urdu online edition on 19 October 2021. Ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party leaders, activists took to Twitter to launch a frontal smear campaign against the journalist who also hosts a political talk-show on Aaj News channel. Adviser to Prime Minister Imran Khan on Political Communication Dr Shahbaz Gill addressed a news conference to lash out at the journalist arguing Asma’s article was “personal attack” on the prime minister’s family. Asma Shirazi denies the allegations.

OFFLINE HARASSMENT: Freelance journalist Rana Abrar Khalid, who is also running personal YouTube channel Economy News, received “threatening calls from government agencies” on 2 October 2021 after he submitted a request for information about “gifts” Prime Minister Imran Khan received from foreign dignitaries under Right to Know law from Pakistan Information Commission. “Some women searched my home in the name of anti-dengue spray. I am afraid my phone calls are tapped and my movement is monitored and I am followed,” the journalist told Freedom Network. “Someone threatened asking to take back the application from the Pakistan Information Commission.”

The government told Pakistan Information Commission (PIC) that details of the gifts could not be shared. However, when the PIC upheld appeal of the applicant the government challenged the PIC ruling in Islamabad High Court where the proceedings are going on.

Daily Khabrian crime reporter Nayyer Waheed registered a case against unknown men for setting his jeep on fire on 20 October 2021 with Kohsar Police Station. The fire completed destroyed roof and seats of the jeep, the journalist said in the report. “I am afraid land mafia are unhappy with my reporting on the subject and this incident is indeed an harassment and message to stop exposing these land-grabbers,” he told Freedom Network.

ATTACK ON HOME: some layers attacked Jang newspaper reporter Tajamul Gurmani in his home after he took photos of construction of alleged illegal home in Media Colony, Lahore, on 12 October 2021. The reporter took the photos to publish in his newspaper to seek attention of authorities against illegal construction by some lawyers. “We were beaten up as the lawyers also damaged households,” the journalist told Freedom Network. “Some 20 to 25 lawyers were involved in the attack on my home. They snatched my mobile to delete the taken photos. They also harassed my wife, sister and children as well. They terrorized my family so I do not attempt to stop this illegal construction.”

VERBAL THREATS: Dawn News TV channel reporter Tahir Naseer received “threatening calls” on 23 October 2021 after his coverage of a scam in Islamabad. He named three persons in his tweet who were “backing” those who hurled threats at him. “These men are demanding to stop follow-up of the scam,” he told Freedom Network.  A case has been registered by police made no arrests yet.

Editor of Daily Sarkar newspaper Siddique Awan and reporter Asif Shah received “threatening calls” on 29 October 2021 after they published report on land-grabbing allegedly by a retired major of Pakistan Army. Major (Retd) Adil was accused in the report of “grabbing land” by using former employer’s name. “An intelligence officer is backing the retired major in threatening us for the report,” the editor told Freedom Network.

LEGAL CASES: Akhbar-e-Haq newspaper’s senior reporter Gulzar Hussain published Rawalpindi Education Board’s exam results before the official announcement. The Board chairman’s son also appeared in these exams and the reporter published details of how the chairman’s son obtained these marks. On 28 October 2021, the chairman submitted application with police against the reporter against the journalist. The chairman accused the reporter of “breaching secrecy” of the board which damaged its staff and the board’s reputation.

Rameez Raja Channa, a local journalist from Dadu district in Sindh province who works for Sindhi-language Awaaz News TV channel, was booked in a case after torturing him for covering Ehsas Kafalat centre on Seeta Road in Dadu on 27 October 2021. The police charged him with “taking brobe” from a woman at the centre. The journalist denies the charge. “A fake case has been registered against him because of his reporting,” the arrested journalist’ colleagues told Freedom Network.

Threats, Attacks Against Various Types of Media

Seven print and six electronic media journalists and one digital journalist faced the fourteen threats documented during October 2021.

Threat Actors Attacking and Harassing Journalists and Media:

In five cases, threat actors remained unknown while in four cases state actors belied involved while in as many cases other threat actors were seen involved.

Caption: The damaged car of journalist late Shahid Zehri.

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