Pak Prez condemns harassment of journalists

Arif Alvi noted that violence against journalists comes under international focus and tarnishes the image of Pakistan….reports Asian Lite News

Pakistani President Arif Alvi on Thursday expressed alarm and deep concern about the rising trend of harassment and torture against journalists in the country.

In a letter to Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, Alvi noted that violence against journalists comes under international focus and tarnishes the image of Pakistan. He said the inactions of previous governments should not be used as a ruse to repeat similar violations and such a stance is both untenable and a lame excuse.

“Recent events of violence against journalists reflect a mindset of intolerance, that has negative repercussions both on the future of democracy as well as freedom of expression as guaranteed by Article 19 in our constitution. Besides creating fear in Pakistan, such actions also come under international focus and tarnish the image of our country,” Alvi wrote.

“Pakistan stands at 157th position in the Freedom of PressIndex-2022. Reporters Without Borders (RSF), Human rights watch (HRW), Amnesty International (AI), and the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) in their reports have attribute harassment, intimidation, and physical violence against journalists as the main reasons for the dismal position of Pakistan in the said index,” he added.

President Alvi said journalists in Pakistan are subjected to charges of sedition and terrorism to stifle dissent and criticism against the powerful elements of the state.

“The actions being taken, also undermine the efforts of the judiciary, when in one jurisdiction relief is provided cases are filed in another jurisdiction with mala fine intention to continue the harassment. It appears that a reign of terror has been unleashed against the media persons who have independent opinions,” he said.

“Actions or inactions of previous governments should not be used as a ruse to repeat similar violations and such a stance is both untenable and a lame excuse. Rather than taking the country in a progressive and positive direction, such comparisons become a justification to do worse in retaliation,” he added.

Pakistan is one of the world’s deadliest countries for journalists, with three to four murders each year that are often linked to cases of corruption or illegal trafficking and which go completely unpunished, according to Reporters Without Border.

Any journalist who crosses the red lines dictated by Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) – an intelligence agency offshoot – is liable to be the target of in-depth surveillance that could lead to abduction and detention for varying lengths of time in the state’s prisons or less official jails.

Furthermore, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), Pakistan’s leading military intelligence agency, is prepared to silence any critic once and for all.

A prominent rights group this week slammed the Pakistani government for the arrest of journalist Imran Riaz Khan and urged authorities to stop punishing dissenting voices.

“PAKISTAN: Amnesty International is alarmed by news of journalist Imran Riaz Khan’s arrest and urges authorities to stop punishing dissenting voices, as has been a worrying trend in Pakistan for many years,” Amnesty said in a statement.

“In the past few weeks, journalists have been disappeared, faced politically motivated charges and even violently attacked for simply doing their job. Journalism is not a crime, and must be stopped being treated as such,” it added.

Popular news anchor Imran Riaz Khan was arrested on Tuesday near the outskirts of Islamabad, hours after he claimed that his life was under threat. Khan was heading to Islamabad when he was arrested in connection with a treason case registered against him in Attock, Pakistan’s Dawn reported.

Khan’s case is among several cases that have been lodged against journalists in Pakistan for allegedly spreading hate against the army and state institutions. This latest arrest comes in the backdrop of a growing crackdown on journalists in Pakistan. (ANI)

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