Worst Month For Media Amidst Political Violence

Twenty-four Threat Cases, Including Attempted Murder, Against Journalists Reported in May 2023

FN Threat Data Analysis – May 2023

Two journalists survived threat to harm attacks,15 faced assaults, one experienced legal action, two others were detained, one abducted while one state property were attacked along with suspension of internet service throughout county after Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf-led protest over arrest of leader Imran Khan. A total of 24 cases of various threat categories against journalists were monitored and documented during May 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.

THREAT TO HARM: Digital journalist Abdul Sattar, working for Tribal News Network (TNN), received threats of harm on 13 May 2023 after he produced a video report on blasphemy. To minimize the risk of harm, TNN team turned off comments section of the video posted online where the journalist was receiving threats. Later, they turned on the comments after deleting the threatening comments.

Ihsan Rahman Sagir, a senior member of Malakand press club and correspondent of Daily Ausaf received threats of dire consequences via phone for posting comments against police administration and drug mafia on his Facebook page on 31 May 2023. Ihsan told Freedom Network that he was not aware about the real motive behind such threats nor he knew about the unknown caller. Ihsan tried to lodge an FIR in the local police station but the police refused to lodge the FIR.

ASSAULT WITHOUT INJURY: Eight journalists were manhandled and tortured by police in the jurisdiction of Bhara Kho police station, Islamabad, on 28May 2023. The journalists were covering protest against murder of a minor girl. When some journalists tried to interview mother of the murdered girl, Police manhandled the journalists and then tortured them. The journalists were later detained in the local police station. The victim journalists were; Nasir Khattak reporter of K21 News TV, Naeem Minhas, reporter of Daily Inkashaaf,Islamabad, Rizwan Minhas, reporter of Royal TV, Kamran Abbasi of Daily Markaz, Islamabad, Shaikh Imran, cameraman of Channel-4, Waseem Qureshi, cameraman of TV Today, Hafiz Tahi, reporter of Nawa-e-Islamabad, Javed Malik, reporter of Daily Taseer. Islamabad.

The Journalists were released after the intervention of the National Press Club administration. Senior Superintended Police (SSP) terminated two policemen for torturing the journalists.

Tikka Khan Sani, reporter of Samaa News channel, was barred from reporting on 10 May 2023 when former PM Imran Khan was brought to Islamabad High Court. The police also tortured the journalist.

ASSAULT RESULTING IN INJURY: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) workers attacked Dawn News and Express News crews in Peshawar on 09 May 2023, injuring reporter of Dawn News Arif Hayat and other media workers. The assailants damaged the crew’s cameras and DSNG vehicle of Dawn News and Express Newschannels during the coverage of PTI protest against arrest of leader Imran Khan, breaking window, and a side mirror, and damaging windscreen of the vehicles of the two channels.  The PTI workers, according to reports, also vandalized equipment and vehicles of Express News and Khyber News channels. Reporter Arif Hayat told Freedom Network that on the day of incident, he along with camera team and other media colleagues was busy in covering the protest when suddenly the PTI workers attacked him and his team and started beating him and vandalizing their DSNG vehicle. He said no action was taken against any PTI workers nor any FIR registered so far.

The house of Jahangir Malik, reporter of The Business Daily Newspaper and owner of YouTube Channel NPG, houses in Shah Jamal, Lahore, was raided on 17 May 2023by two men un police uniform and six in plainclothes. The journalist and his family were physically tortured resulting in breaking of journalist front teeth and an injury to his hand. The raid happened without any arrest warrant of arrest of the journalist. Police said they wanted Jahangir in connection with a murder, kidnapping, and other criminal cases. However, Jahangir emphasized that he did not have any involvement in criminal activities and claimed that the incident appeared to be a targeted attack aimed at silencing his voice and undermining his credibility as a journalist. “It is evident that I am being harassed solely for carrying out my professional responsibilities,” he told Freedom Network.

Cameramen Ali Zaidi of HUM News channel and Qazi Salman, freelancer and associated with VOA were doing coverage of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf protest against arrest of leader Imran Khan in Islamabad on 09 May 2023. Police personal snatched their equipment and baton-charged them causing them injuries. Despite complaint, police did not entertain their application for registration of case.

Police also tortured journalists during coverage of 9 May protest by PTI workers in Quetta. Senior photographer Banaras khan of Agency France Press and GTV News’ team including bureau chief Bushra Qamar, reporter Faizan khan and a cameraman injured. SSP Operation Quetta Zohaib Mohsin was present on the spot and prevented again and again the journalists from making video of the protest.  Police also took away mobile phones from these journalists.

After complete boycott of police activities’ coverage, SSP Operations Zohaib Mohsin went to the Quetta Press Club and apologized for the whole incident.

LEGAL ACTION: The Sindh Home Department issued on 16 May 2023 an order to detain Karachi-based Sindhi journalist Nasrallah Gadani under Maintenance of Public Order. The journalist, according to the order, was allegedly inciting people to block roads and highways and organize sit-ins, which could have disrupted peace and created a serious law and order situation. According to the report, his actions could have jeopardized public safety. Gadani was arrested by Mirpur Mathelo police and handed over to Hyderabad police, who transferred him to central prison. Nasrullah Gaddani is still in Hyderabad central Jail.

DETENTION: Police detained Faizan Ali, reporter of HUM News channel and Mustajaab Hasan, cameraman of Express News, in Rawalpindi While returning home from office after doing coverage of post-Imran Khan arrest disturbances on 10 May 2023. The police also made the two journalists subject to inhuman treatment.

ABDUCTED: BOL News anchorperson Sami Ibrahim went missing from Islamabad on 25 May 2023. In a complaint lodged at Aabpara Police Station by Ibrahim’s brother Ali Raza, the journalist was intercepted by four cars near Sixth Avenue at around 9pm after he left his office for home with his driver. According to the complainant, Ibrahim was forcibly taken by eight to ten unidentified men, who also took three mobile phones belonging to the driver and the car keys. After six days Sami Ibrahim reached home but his health was not stable. He did not give any statement about his disappearance so far.

STATE MEDIA BUIDLING DAMAGED: On 10 May 2023 political party (PTI) miscreants launched a violent attack on the building of Radio Pakistan in Peshawar and burnt down the state property resulting in the significant damage and depriving the millions of radio listeners.

INTERNET SERVICESUSPENDED: Internet services throughout the country remained completely or partially suspended by Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) from May 10 to May 13 2023 to counter mob violence that erupted after Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan was arrested in Islamabad.

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

Fourteen TV, seven print journalists, one digital media professional faced these cases while a state media’s building was badly damaged and internet services remained suspended during May 2023.

Threat Actors Attacking and Harassing Journalists and Media:

Nineteen state actors, two political party and three unknown threat actors were believed behind these threats these journalists faced.

Caption: Thick black smoke engulfs  state-owned Radio Pakistan’s building in Peshawar after Pakistan Tehreek-Insaf workers and supporters put this historic building to fire after party leader Imran Khan was arrested in alleged corrupt practice by national anti-graft watchdog National Accountability Bureau in Islamabad on 09 May 2023. Photo: Google Image

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