The President asked the Prime Minister to keep him informed of the remedial actions taken by him as per article 46 of the Constitution
Islamabad, 07 July 2022: President Dr Arif Alvi in a letter addressed to the Prime Minister has expressed his deep concern on the rising trend of harassment and torture against journalists and media persons in Pakistan.
The President, while referring to recent incidents of violence against journalists, stated that such events 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 of the Constitution of Pakistan and Article 19 of the United Nation’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Such actions also come under international focus and tarnish the image of our country, he added.
The President noted with concern that Pakistan stands at 157th position in the Freedom of Press Index-2022 which is very low and said that Reporters Without Borders (RSF), Human Rights Watch (HRW), Amnesty International (AI), and the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) in their reports have attributed harassment, intimidation, and physical violence against journalists as the main reasons for the dismal position of Pakistan in the said index.
The President also referred to the reports of the Committee to Protect the Journalists (CPJ) and HRW, wherein they had reported that 96 Journalists had been killed in Pakistan from 1992 to 2022 and alleged that the journalists in Pakistan were subjected to charges of sedition and terrorism to stifle dissent and criticism against the powerful elements of the state.
While mentioning a few important cases, the President named Mr Nazim Jokhiyo, a citizen journalist, who was abducted from his house in Karachi and was tortured to death, and Mr Aziz Memon, a journalist of KTN and Daily Kawish, who was killed near his home town Mehrabpur, Sindh. Mr Matiullah Jan was abducted in broad daylight from a busy area of Islamabad. Mr Asad Ali Toor and Mr Absar Alam were assaulted and injured by unidentified men. Mr Ayaz Amir was attacked, humiliated and bruised by unknown persons on the road during rush hours in the presence of many eyewitnesses in Lahore and multiple FIRs had been registered against Mr Sami Ibrahim, Mr Arshad Sharif, Mr Sabir Shakir, Mr Imran Riaz Khan and Mr Moeed Pirzada at various Police Stations in a number of cities across the country.
The President observed that recent actions being taken against the reputed journalists undermined the efforts of the judiciary because when in one jurisdiction relief was provided, cases were filed in another jurisdiction with mala fide intention to continue the harassment. It appears that a reign of terror has been unleashed against the media persons who have independent opinions, he added.
The President emphasized that the 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. This comparison, he said, instead of taking the country in a progressive and positive direction will become a justification to do worse in retaliation.
The President observed that in terms of Article 41 of the Constitution of Pakistan, the President should endeavour to protect the fundamental rights of freedom of speech and fair trial for all citizens. Pakistan being a democratic country, should not allow oppression and persecution of intelligentsia and journalists, he stressed.
The President said that law enforcement agencies may be directed to ensure the protection of journalists and media persons as well as politicians across the aisle should also play their role to save the journalists from the highhandedness of unknown and unscrupulous elements.
The President asked the Prime Minister to keep him informed of the remedial actions taken by him as per article 46 of the Constitution.