Journalists Survive Murder & Kidnapping Attempts

FN Threat Data Analysis – August 2020

Two journalists, including an editor of local newspaper in Peshawar, escaped attempt to murder as 12 cases of attacks, injuries, written threats and legal cases against journalists were monitored and documented during August 2020 by Pakistan Press Club Safety Hubs Network programme, 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 seven press clubs in Karachi, Lahore, Quetta, Islamabad, Peshawar, Landikotal besides Khuzdar in Balochistan under Pakistan Press Club Safety Hub Network programme since February 2016.

ATTEMMPT TO MURDER: Crime reporter Nasir Khan, working for Royal News TV channel in Islamabad, escaped assassination attempt in G9/2 sector of the federal capital when two motorcyclists opened fire on him on 08 August 2020. He stated in his police report that he was going to G9 Markaz from his office in F6 sector when the bikers opened fire at him. “I was able to notice their attempt and lost control falling off moving motorcycle. That helped me miss the bullets, fortunately,” he said. No arrest is made so far.

ATTEMPT TO KIDNAP: Female journalist Sobia Musharraf, who works for Daily FIR newspaper, was attacked by unknown people while she was travelling to her native town Dena in Punjab province 2 August 2020. She told Freedom Network that she was being chased by a white car. She called 15 help at Sohawa toll plaza. “As I were paying toll plaza to men stepped out of the white car rushing towards my car hitting windscreem and sunroof of her car. I sped off to reach Sohawa Police Station. They were attempting to kidnap me,” the journalist told Freedom Network.

INJURED: Around 10 masked men attacked office of Urdu-language local newspaper Daily Aas damaging equipment and injuring Editor Aftab Khattak on the night of 14 August 2020. The attackers took away computers with them after the attack escaping effortlessly from the scene. The injured editor was treated in hospital for his wounds. Aftab Khattak told Freedom Network that he did not receive any threat before the attack nor did he know likely motive for the attack. The police noted the attack but did not lodge formal FIR yet.

LEGAL CASES: A senior at Press Information Department, Asim Kichi, lodged FIR against four journalists for allegedly attempting to attack him after exchanging how words over advertisement issuance to a Kashmir-based newspaper to mark “Ehtesal-e-Kashmir Day” to condemn the Indian government for changing legal status of Indian-held Kashmir. Ijaz Abbasi, editor of Sada-e-Chinar, said he went to visit the officer to discuss issuance of advertisement for his newspaper denying he intended to attack him. The official claimed the editor and six other journalists were “equipped with firearms” putting pistol at his head to order issuance of advertisement. The issue was taken up at the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists and Federal Minister for Information Shibli Faraz intervened reaching settlement between the official and the journalists. The official later withdrew his FIR.

Khubaib Foundation, Islamabad-based civil society organization, served legal notice on Chaudhry Muhammad Aslam, chief editor of Daily FIR, Islamabad, on 12 August 2020. The newspaper carried an embezzlement story against the organization. Court of Additional District Judge of Islamabad summoned the editor on 17 September 2020.

Former National Press Club president Shakil Qarar registered FIR with Federal Investigation Agency under Prevention of Cybercrimes Act law against two fellow journalists – Daily Musawat Resident Editor Amir Butt and Daily Aik Awaaz reporter Syed Zia Gilani – for allegedly “disseminating propaganda” against him through Facebook platform. The two journalists shared copy of an agreement Shakil Qarar signed when he was the club president.

Police in interior Sindh arrested journalist Ajeeb Lakho for allegedly “possessing bottles of wines” 5 August 2020 in Naushero Feroze district. It was the 18th case lodged against the journalist. He is in hot waters ever since his investigative report he had filed against senior police official for alleged involvement in oil smuggling. The Police registered FIR under Sections 324, 147, 148, 149, 427 and 337 of Pakistan Penal Code. He secured bail 26 August 2020 after spending 20 days in prison.

NEWSPAPER DECLARATION: A district magistrate in Islamabad restored 12 August 2020 declaration of local newspaper Daily FIR after listening to both sides. The deputy commissioner Islamabad cancelled the declaration after the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting made objection raising alleged ethical violations by the newspaper saying the newspaper’s editorial policy “provoking the society.” Chief Editor Chaudhry Muhammad Aslam moved the court against the declaration’s cancellation and won his appeal.

Click below link to read July 2020 threat data analysis: 

PEMRA In Action

Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) suspended licence of 24 News TV channel for “airing hate speech” while AbbTakk News channel was issued show-cause notice for airing “fake news”.

Threats, Attacks & Harassment against Various Types of Media

Off 12 journalists who faced threats included 11 from print and one from electronic media.

Threat Actors Attacking and Harassing Journalists and Media

Government official, police, civil society organization and some unknown elements were suspected for being involved in these threats.

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