On March 6, Pakistan formed Joint Investigation Team (JIT) to find the killers and motives into the murder of Aziz Memon within 15 days.
Within 24 hours, on March 7, 2020, the provincial Sindh government appointed Additional Inspector General Karachi Ghulam Nabi Memon, as the new head of the Joint Investigation Team (JIT), replacing the Additional Inspector General Hyderabad, Dr. Waliullah. The provincial Sindh Chief Minister (CM) Syed Murad Ali Shah insisted that the members of the investigation team have been recommended by the slain journalist’s family.
On March 15, the body of the slain journalist was exhumed in the presence of a session court judge and the joint investigation team (JIT). During the second postmortem, the JIT reportedly found new forensic evidence of murder.
On May 22, the provincial Chief Minister Sindh, Syed Murad Ali Shah, informed the media about development in Mr. Memon’s case after the joint investigation team’s (JIT) announcement of arresting two suspects. The police withheld the names of the suspects until the DNA confirmation.
May 29, 2020, prime suspect Nazir Sahto gave a confessed the murder as “personal enmity,” in a local court in Naushahro Feroz, Sindh. The Karachi Police chief Ghulam Nabi Memon informed the media about confession and the names of the accomplices of the main suspect. He confirmed that three suspects are in custody, but five are still at large, including the mastermind, Mushtaq Sahto.
May 5, 2020, police claim arresting the sixth suspect.
http://www.freedomtalk.net/ Take: Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) wants unchallenged powers to interfere in Police and a yes-man police chief. The Chief Minister of Sindh, Syed Murad Ali Shah, did everything to remove former Inspector General of Police (IGP) Allah Dino (AD) Khawaja and now Dr. Syed Kaleem Imam, the present IGP. Both the officers are known for their honesty, professionalism, and defying political interference in arresting the criminals, hiding in the parliament. Ironically, the PPP passed a resolution against police chief AD Khawaja and defied the court orders to remove the officer. PPP strongly condemned the murder of Mr. Memon and advised the journalists to "work with your allies."
JUNE 2020, KARACHI POLICE CLAIM TO ARREST THE CONVICTED KILLER OF GEO NEWS REPORTER WALI KHAN BABER ALMOST A DECADE LATER
According to the investigations, Mr. Babar was killed for his reporting on terror sprees by a political party that once controlled Karachi, the largest city of Pakistan. The party terrorized Karachi for over thirty years by dumping mutilated bodies in the bags, land grabbing, and extortion while enjoyed the power-sharing on Federal and provincial levels. Leaders of all three major political parties Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), repeatedly visited the party's headquarter in Karachi for political support, and still part of the ruling part. The party is now disbanded.
THE UNRESOLVED MYSTERY OF THE BEHEADING OF THE WALL STREET JOURNAL’S REPORTER, DANIEL PEARL
April 2020, Provincial Sindh High court revoked the death sentence of Ahmed Omer Saeed Sheikh, in the kidnapping and beheading of the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) journalist, Daniel Pearl. The court also lessened the charges to kidnapping only and sentenced Saeed Sheikh to seven years in jail, which he has already served. In 2002, the slain journalist was unearthing religious extremism in Pakistan in the post 9/11 era. He was kidnapped in Karachi, and later the video footage of his gruesome beheading was circulated.
June 30, 2020, the Supreme Court of Pakistan (SC) dismissed the Sindh province's appeal to repeal the acquittal of the suspects ruled by the Sindh High Court’s (SHC). However, the court advised Counsel Faisal Siddiqui to annex a complete documentary and factual evidence for further proceedings.
In 2011, Daniel Pearl’s friend Asra Nomani, revealed in the “Pearl Project report,” that Omar Sheikh and other convicted were not the real killers of the journalist. Read complete report: The Pearl Project, The Truth Left Behind https://cloudfront-files-1.publicintegrity.org/documents/pdfs/The_Pearl_Project.pdf
http://www.freedomtalk.net/ formerly known as Bridge Communications and Research – BCR, publishedhttp://www.freedomtalk.net/patrons-of-pakistan.html honoring Daniel Pearl until 2017.
- May 2020, Killers shot dead Sindhi Language daily Koshsish journalist Zulfiqar Ali Mandrani in Jacobabad, Sindh. The suspects confessed the crime as an honor killing.
ASSAULTS | ARRESTS | HARASSMENTS - 2020
- June 2020, local authorities kidnapped and severely tortured two senior journalists Saeed Ali, working for Samaa News and Matin Achakzai, working for the Pashtun-language Khyber News TV for their reporting on the poor quarantine facilities in Chaman, a city of the restive province of Balochistan. The authorities dumped their tortured body; the area Deputy-Commissioner (DC) admitted the arrest after three days.
- June 2020, police arrested a 13-year-old boy over a satirical police depiction on social media in Dera Ismail Khan (DI), the province of Punjab.
- June 2020, Imtiaz Alam, a senior journalist, Secretary-General of the South Asian Free Media Association (SAFMA), Editor South Asian Journal and South Asian Media Net, claimed and shared a picture on his verified Twitter accounts that a group of masked raiders tried to attack, and enter his Lahore residence in the wee hours. Mr. Alam claimed that masked raiders had robbed his house in the past.
- June 2020, unidentified attackers shot and injured Sindhi-language newspaper, daily Koshish journalist, Jameel Mahar in Shikarpur, Sindh. The motive of the attack yet to be determined.
- May 2020, armed attackers assaulted and injured Associated Press of Pakistan (APP) sports reporter, Ijaz Ahmed Khan, in Peshawar. Mr. Khan suffered head injuries and filed a police report. The motive of the attack remains unknown.
- May 2020, an angry mob attacked and tortured media house DAWN correspondent A.B. Arisar and his family in the Jewan colony, Sindh. Mr. Arisar alleged that the local police did not reach on time and made no arrests. The motive of the attack remains unknown.
- April 2020, police arrested reporter Tauqeer Zaidi and cameraman Wajahat Hussain, working for a privately owned channel 24 News HD, for their candid coverage on Covid19 pandemic in Dera Ismail Khan. The police released the detainees after spending a day in custody, and the charges were dropped.
- April 22, unknown attackers carrying fire-arm attacked and injured Malik Naqqash, a cameraman working for a privately-owned TV channel Roze News. Mr. Naqqash has registered a case with the local police.
- March 2020, armed attackers assaulted and injured journalist Umar Bacha, working for Daily DAWN and left him unconscious in Shangla, the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP). The journalist had published a report on the wrongdoings in Tehsil Headquarters Hospital (THQ), Shangla. He claimed that a religious-turned-political party Jamiat Ulema-e Islam of Fazal-ur-Rehman (JUI-F), had threatened him with the dire consequences. Police released all the suspects nominated in the police report by Mr. Bacha.
- March 2020, National Accountability Bureau (NAB) arrested the Editor-in-Chief of Jang and Geo Group and media tycoon, Mir Shakil ur Rahman, in a property purchase, dating back to 1986. Jang/ Geo media denied any wrongdoings in the deal and submitted all the paperwork proving the legitimacy of the purchase. Attempting to pull Geo off-air, Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) forced cable operators to downgrade Geo TV channels to the farther numbers. On March 18, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) ordered the restoration of Geo News to its former channels.
MEDIA HOUSE CLARIFICATION: "All major allegations — whether 34 years old or recent — against Jang Group have been proven false in the court of law whether in the most prestigious UK court or honorable Pakistan courts, including taking illegal funds from foreign entities, taking funds for political patronage, traitorhood, blasphemy, and tax-related allegations, etc.
Jang Group’s newspapers, channels, reporters, editors, and anchors have experienced shutdowns, been shot at, killed, banned, boycotted, but the Group is still standing and it's efforts to pursue the truth remain, said the spokesperson."
http://www.freedomtalk.net/ take: The incumbents using anti-graft court to target the media houses criticizing the government and resilient against the censorship and adhering to press freedom. Recently, the Herald group (DAWN) group, another resilient media house resisting censorships, filed a petition in the court against the suspension of the government advertisement to financially suppress the media house. In May 2019, a woman, Tayyaba Farooq, had alleged the Chairman National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Javed Iqbal of sexual harassment and Geo News aired footage of the leaked a video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aYrd15l3ZP4
In November 2018, the Geo News also broke reported about the fake degree of National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Lahore Director General Shahzad Saleem.
- March 2020, veiled men disguising as women, attacked Aurat (women) March with bricks, and shoes forcing the abrupt end of the rally marking the International women day in Islamabad. Police arrested one man and booked 400 more suspects
- March 2020, the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) barred beleaguering members of the National Assembly (NA) and the leaders of the Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM), Mohsin Dawar and Ali Wazir, from boarding a flight to Kabul. According to FIA, the MNAs names on Exit Control List (ECL).
- March 2020, a famous playwright, director, lyricist, and periodic actor, Khalil-ur-Rehman Qamar, hurled profanities, misogynistic, and body-shaming remarks at female journalist and rights activist, Marvi Sarmad while debating Aurat (woman) March in a live TV show.
- February 2020, senior sports Jang/Geo News reporter Abdul Majid Bhatti and Shoaib Jutt, a reporter of a local TV channel, filed reports with the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) of receiving threatening calls from blocked callers IDs. The journalists did not disclose the links between their reporting and the threatening calls.
- February 2020, police assaulted and baton-charged peacefully protesting teachers of the Islamia College University in Peshawar. The teachers are protesting for unpaid dues, renewal of contract teachers, and changes in the administration.
- February 2020, the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) claimed to issue summons to the senior female journalist and social media critic Gul Bukhari on allegation of defaming national institutions and security. Ms. Bukhari denied receiving any such notice.
- February 2020, authorities barred Uzlifat Ismail, mother of the Pashtun rights activist, Gulalai Ismail, from going abroad, and put her name in the exit control list (ECL) alleging her for anti-State activities and supporting her daughter. Ms. Gulalai Ismail has self-exiled herself to the United States
- February 2020, Karachi police arrested at least 30 activists of the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM) to disrupt the marking of PTM leader, Arman Loni’s first death anniversary. Mr. Loni was killed last year during a sit-in in Balochistan. PTM alleged the authorities killed their leader.
- January 2020, authorities arrested Ameena Zaman, a female protester in her 70s for peacefully protesting the arrest of leader of Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM) Manzoor Pashteen.
- January 2020, Pakistani authorities arrest Pashtun right activist and leader of Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM) Manzoor Pashteen, along with many other party activists and sympathizers including female activist Ismat Shahjahan; Ammar Rashid, President of Awami Workers Party (AWP); Nawfal Saleemi, an academic, researcher and a political worker, Saifullah Nasar & Shah Rukn e Alam of AWP; Qismat, PTM activist and student of the Government College of Bannu, and climate and political activist Mohsin Abdali, M.Phil. a student from the Punjab University; MBBS student Saqib Wazir of Ayub Medical College. Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM) member of the National Assembly (NA) Mohsin Dawar also detained briefly. Authorities gradually started releasing the other detainees while the party claims that still many of its activists, including Chief Manzoor Pashteen are still in jail. The government randomly used charges ranging from terrorism to sedition against arrested and kidnapped activists. The majority of the protesters were arrested outside the Islamabad Press Club. Later, the activists were granted bail by the Islamabad High Court (IHC), but PTM Chief, Manzoor Pashteen, released in late February of 2020.
- January 2020, authorities allow lawyer, human rights, and Hazara Community activist, Jalila Haider to board an international flight after brief detention at the Lahore Airport.
- January 2020, Lahore police arrest journalist Azharul (Izhar) Haq Wahid, working for Channel Five and daily Khabrain newspaper, on allegations of posting defamatory remarks against State-institutions and officials on social media. He was granted bail in March 2020.
- January 2020, fighter pilot-turned-writer Mohammad Hanif claimed that the law enforcement agencies raided the office of his publisher and seized the Urdu-translated copies of his famed satirical novel “A Case of Exploding Mangoes.” Mr. Hanif's novel “A Case of Exploding Mangoes” was about the mystery of an unsolved plane crash in which former military Chief Zia-ul-Haq, a US ambassador, and several other Generals of Pakistan' armed forces were killed in 1988.
- April 2020, provincial Sindh High court acquitted senior journalist Nasrullah Chaudhry. In December 2019, a judge sentenced Mr. Chaudhry to five years imprisonment under the Anti-Terrorism Act for allegedly possessing hate literature. Mr. Chaudhry was behind bars since November 2018. He works for Urdu-language daily Nai Baat.
- January 2020, Rawalpindi policed released advocate Colonel (R) Inam Raheem after month-long detention. Mr. Raheem works on the cases of infamous Enforced Disappearances in Pakistan. The police did not reason his arrest.
- January 2020, the provincial Sindh High Court bars Sindh police from registering new cases against journalist Ajeeb Lakho. The court ruled after Mr. Lakho’s lawyer informed the court that the police set up the journalist after the publication of his story alleging links between police and the oil smugglers in the area. The police booked Mr. Lakho in 17 cases within five months.
- June 2020, Anis-ur-Rehman, editor of weekly magazine Nida-e-Millat, disappeared from the capital city Islamabad heavily-guarded red-zone “diplomatic enclave,” while on a work-related visit to the embassy of Saudi Arabia. After nine days of disappearances, the police claimed to recover the journalist, and Mr. Rehman returned home. However, the police had refused to register a missing case during the disappearance of the journalist.
- June 2020, family and friends of Niaz Hussain Lashari, a Sindhi rights activist, and member of beleaguered Jeay Sindh Qaumi Mahaz (Arisar) alleged his murder as extrajudicial killing in Karachi. Mr. Lashsari was arrested on terrorism charges and later released. He was kidnapped in January 2020 soon after by unidentified kidnappers and found dead on June 16, 2020, with multiple gun-shots.
- June 2020, Pakistan’s Defense Ministry informed the country’s commission on enforced disappearances that human rights activist Idris Khattak, disappeared in November 2019, in the custody of the Military Intelligence (MI).
- May 2020, unidentified armed kidnappers kidnapped Sana Baloch, MPhil student, and President of Naseer Kubdani Literary Society from Kharan, Balochistan.
- May 2020, families and friends of Nasir Phulan, a student of Bahauddin Zakariya University, and Jahanzaib Rafiq, a student of Lasbela University of Agriculture, Water & Marine Sciences (LUAWMS) alleged that the security forces have abducted them from Absor district, Balochistan.
- March 2020, Voice for Baloch Missing Persons – VBMP reported the enforced disappearances of nine Baloch persons from different parts of the province of Balochistan: Fida s/o Mohammad Ali from Tamp, Hissam s/o Fazal Karim from Panjgur, Hayat, Abid, Jahanzeb, Akram s/o Baiyan and Sudir s/o Yar Mohammad from Baleedah, Ubaid Yousuf and Shoib Yousuf from Gawadar.
- March 2020, unknown kidnappers kidnapped four Sindhi nationalists activists Syed Danish Shah, Din Mohammad Khoso, Sajjad Magnejo, and Sajjad Sunjrani from Gulshan-e-Iqbal – Karachi.
- February 2020, Voice for Baloch Missing Persons – VBMP reported the enforced disappearance of Hasan Qambrani from Kuli Qambrani, Quetta.
- January 2020, Voice for Baloch Missing Persons – VBMP reported the enforced disappearance of 14-years-old Jalal s/o Hassan.
- January 2020, Voice for Baloch Missing Persons – VBMP reported the enforced disappearance of a Baloch student, Hanif S/O Faiz Mohammad, from Gawadar, Balochistan.
MINORITIES | BLASPHEMY
- June 2020, authorities arrest Professor Sajid Soomro, a teacher at the Shah Abdul Latif University, and charge him under blasphemy law over a social media post. Mr. Soomro is also a writer and poet.
- June 2020, armed neighbors shot and injured Christian man Nadeem Joseph and his mother-in-law over moving into a Muslim neighborhood. The hate-motivated crime occurred in Swati Phatak TV Colony, Peshawar.
- June 2020, parents and relatives of three teenaged minority Hindu girls Premi, Bhagwati, and Santra filed police reports against the known kidnappers for the recovery of the kidnapped girls. All three girls have been kidnapped within a week. The police had not made any arrests until making this update. Each year, as many as 700 Hindu and Christian minor girls are kidnapped in Pakistan, while many cases remain underreported. Pir Mian Abdul Khaliq (Mian Mithu), a well-connected political and spiritual leader, is known as the ring leader of forced conversion in urban-rural divided Sindh province. Court rulings side with the kidnappers as police collude with the kidnappers, and the majority of the victims belong to the underprivileged families.
- May 2020, a man named Amjad, allegedly kidnapped Fatima Masih, a 12-year-old minority Christian girl, in Gulzar Colony, near Jhang, the province of Punjab. Anwar Masih, the father of the kidnapped girl, filed a police report, but the local authorities failed to take any appropriate action against powerful kidnappers till this update.
- May 2020, Zafar Iqbal Nunari, an influential landlord and his accomplices occupy and rampage a century-old Christian cemetery with tractors in Chak No. 174/10-R, Khanewal, the province of Punjab. There is no clear motive for the attack and occupation, but the powerful land mafia in Pakistan occupies the land for monetary gains.
- May 2020, a local court validates the kidnapping and forced conversion of a 14-year-old girl Maira Shahbaz, who belongs to the minority Christian community in Faisalabad, the province of Punjab. The family of the kidnapped girl produced all the required documents proving the girl’s age, but the court ruled in favor of the kidnapper, Mohamad Nakash.
- May 2020, Pakistan excluded the two most targeted and persecuted Muslim-Minorities Hazara and Ahmadiyya from the National Commission for Minorities (NCM). According to Pakistan’s Human Rights Commission, more than 500 Hazaras were killed between 2012 and 2017, in Quetta, the provincial capital of the restive Balochistan province. The Ahmadis are also the victims of persecution in Pakistan. A former Prime Minister of Pakistan, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, has declared Ahmadiyya or Qadyani as non-Muslim in 1974. Since then, hundreds of the members of the Ahmadiyya community have been killed, thrown in jails, and deprived of employment opportunities. Tens of thousands have left Pakistan. Since the declaration, the Ahmadiyya community subjected to continuous persecution and discrimination by the succeeding governments and vigilantes.
- May 2020, two armed kidnappers Akhter Mehr and Razaq Mehr, kidnapped minority Hindu girl Kavita Kumari, from her home in Ghotki, the province of Sindh. The victim's family identified the kidnappers in the police report, but the police have not taken any action.
- April 2020, families of two minority Hindu girls released a video message about the abduction and forced conversion of teenaged girls, Suthi, and Shama in Sindh. The families alleged that the Member of the National Assembly (MNA) of Pakistan and politically well connected, Pir Faisal Shah Jeelani’s brother is behind the crime.
- April 2020, local police arrested and charged Presbyterian assistant pastor, Sarfaraz Raja, on allegations of brewing home-liquor in Nankana District, the Punjab Province. The pastor has been released on bail and informed media that his arrest was the result of complaints against police officers continued intimidation to the residents.
- April 2020, eyewitnesses identified the armed kidnappers of a 14-years-old Christian girl, Myra Shehbaz, in Faisalabad, the province of Punjab. The mother of the kidnapped girl feared that the girl may be raped, converted to Islam, or killed.
- April 2020, religious groups and individuals took the social media by storm with their long-standing demand to behead Muslim minority Ahmadiyya trended as the top three over the rumors of their inclusion in the Minorities Rights Commission of Pakistan. A former Prime Minister of Pakistan, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, had expelled the Ahmadiyya community from Islam by declaring them blasphemous.
- April 2020, a mob attacked the house of minority Shia Muslims, alleging them as blasphemous in Hyderabad, the province of Sindh.
- March 2020, a man named Munir Ahmed, kidnapped Bhambo Mai, a 15-year-old Hindu girl, forcibly converted and married.
- February 2020, Mr. Saleem Ud Din, spokesperson of Jama'at Ahmadiyya (minority-Muslims) Pakistan, reported that the police of Chak 2 TDA, District Khushab, desecrated three graves in the Ahmadiyya graveyard. Mr. Din claimed that the police acted under pressure from the local clerics. The district's administration of Khushab did not refute the claims.
- February 2020, landowners and locals tortured a Christian man Saleem Masih, to death over bathing in tube-well, in Kasur. The majority of the Muslims widely believe it as sacrilegious to use the same water or food already consumed or touched by a minority-Muslim or non-Muslim.
- February 2020, a Christian man, Asher Samson, claimed that he is living in hiding after being threatened by the fanatics. The United Kingdom has rejected Mr. Samson's asylum claim and sent him back to Pakistan.
- February 2020, defying the orders of the Supreme Court of Pakistan, authorities validated fanatic’s invasion to a century-old minority-Muslims Ahmadiyya mosque and hand it over to its occupiers in Kasur – Punjab.
- February 2020, fanatic groups hurled threats and trolled a female lawyer Saify Ali Khan, after her statement in a TV show construed as blasphemous. Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) has demanded security for the lawyer.
- February 2020, a court rejected a plea of an abducted and forcibly converted Hindu teenaged to go with her parents, and instead, sent her to a shelter home in Jaccobabad, Sindh. The parents of the victim, Mehak Kumari, told media that her kidnapper, Ali Raza Solangi, forced her into Islam and marriage. One of the largest religious parties, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F), influencing the case in favor of the alleged abductors.
- February 2020, Sindh High Court (SHC) legitimates the kidnapping of a 14-year-old Christian girl Huma Younus, and allowed her kidnapper to keep her as his “wife,” citing the girl’s “puberty.” Parents of the girls had alleged a Muslim man kidnapped Ms. Younus and took her to another province where Ms.Younus was forcibly converted and married against her will to her abductor.
- January 2020, rioters attacked and damaged minority Hindu temple in a remote town of Cachro, Sindh. Police claimed the arrest of four suspects, but the motive of the attack remained unknown.
- January 2020, Islamabad Bar Association barred minority Ahmadi-Muslims from the membership and made it mandatory for the applicants to file an affidavit declaring their beliefs. Later, the notification was retracted.
- January 2020, Rawalpindi police booked an atheist man, Syed Mudaassar, on blasphemy allegations over a complaint filed by another man, Bilal Hashmi.
- January 2020, police arrest two friends Shahbaz Masih (Christian) and Muhammad Ishaq (Muslim), over alleged blasphemy in Faisalabad, Punjab. Fearing repercussions, the families of the arrested friends are also living in hiding.
- January 2020, Multan Bar Association passed a resolution named ‘Tahafuz-e-Namoos-e-Risalat’ banning non-Muslim and minority Ahmadi-Muslims from participating in Multan Bar elections.
CENSORSHIPS | BANS | FINES
- June 2020, Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) banned the airing of Powerful energy drink. In the letter censoring the commercial, PEMRA termed the TV ad as “indecent, vulgar and against the Islamic values, social norms, and ethics of Pakistanis society.”
- June 2020, Pakistani state-owned television (PTV) ends airing Parliamentary Speech of the parliamentarian Mohsin Dawar, for criticizing Taliban resurgence, killing of his party Pashtun Thaffuz Movement (PTM) activist Arif Wazir, and Pakistan’s foreign policy.
- May 2020, Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) disregards private TV channel Bol News smear campaign, media trial, and hatemongering against minority Muslim-Ahmadiyya community and Jang-Geo Editor-in-Chief Mir Shakeel-ur-Rehman.
- May 2020, Pakistan topped the list of the countries that approached Facebook for content censorship. However, Facebook censored 2,300 in Pakistan during July-December 2019, making Pakistan the second-highest, after Russia.
- May 2020, Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) suspended privately-owned TV channel, Neo News HD alleging a licensing violation. Earlier this month, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) had endorsed PEMRA decision for Neo News HD to pay the penalty, stop airing current affairs TV show and follow the licensing terms of entertainment only.
- April 2020, in a yet another punitive measure against media houses defying censorships, the government of Pakistan orders 85% of the advertisement revenue will go to the Federal Ministry of Information for further disbursement. The Pakistan Herald Publications, publishers of the Daily DAWN, had already filed a petition in the Sindh High Court (SHC) for abrupt suspension of the government advertisements since January 2020 and Editor-in-Chief of Jang and Geo Group and media tycoon, Mir Shakil ur Rahman already behind bars for continued resilience against media censorship in Pakistan.
- April 2020, Prime Minister Imran Khan Government stopped candid journalists from attending the pressers and briefing of the government to eliminate criticism over the government’s questionable policies after Prime Minister expressed anger over journalists asking tough questions during first briefing over COVID-19. Since then, the government leaning anchors are briefed and issued instructions ahead of the Prime Minister and Federal Ministers briefings.
- March 2020, Prime Minister Imran Khan approved Rs42 million and staffed thirty employees to silence criticism over the internet.
- March 2020, the Supreme Court of Pakistan suspends all lower court decisions to free low-risk under-trial inmates. Prisoners are highly at risk of COVID-19 in enormously over-crowded jails.
- March 2020, the local administration demolished the district press club of Tando Allahyar, in the province of Sindh. The administration did not clarify the action.
- February 2020, the Pakistan Herald Publications, publishers of the Daily DAWN, filed a petition in the Sindh High Court (SHC) for abrupt suspension of the government advertisements since January 2020. DAWN, founded by the founder of Pakistan, Mohammad Ali Jinnah, is one of the most resilient media houses in Pakistan against the succeeding governments' assaults on Press Freedom and censorships.
- February 2020, unknown people destroyed posters symbolizing the liberal women and announcing Aurat (woman) March 2020 in Lahore.
- February 2020, under the pretext of online fraud and using sweeping powers, the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) introduced yet another plan to censorship and strangulate freedom of expression on social media. The government has ordered YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and TikTok to establish offices in the capital city of Islamabad, generate a data server, and designate a representative within three months. Under the law, all the contents or videos deemed objectionable or blasphemous by the government or the monitoring authorities shall be taken down. The government will grant access to law enforcement agencies to the database and the contents. The Asia Internet Coalition (AIC), which includes the heavyweights such as Facebook, Twitter, Google, Apple, Amazon, Airbnb, Line, LinkedIn, and Yahoo, warned Prime Minister Imran Khan, to cease functioning in Pakistan if the newly-introduced social media rules not relaxed.
- January 2020, the Sindh High Court summoned actor and director Humayun Saeed on allegation of derogatory dialogues in one of the most famous TV shows in recent years, “Meray Paas Tum Ho.” The female plaintiff alleged the actor for what she believed misogynistic language.
- January 2020, Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) sent a show-cause notice to private channel Abb Takk News over a female lawyer’s quote mentioning the holy personality of Islam in a talk-show News Café.
- January 2020, despite the clearance from the Film Censor Board, Pakistan censored film Zindagi Tamasha after protests of the religious parties.
- January 2020, the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMR) banned host Waqa Zaka’s TV show, Champions on Bol Entertainment. PEMRA alleged the show indecent, and not aligned with social values.
- January 2020, Pakistan State-Owned TV (PTV) muted “no” in a live telecast of voting in the Parliament on the extension of the Army Chief tenure.
- January 2020, Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) banned ARY News political talk-show 'Off the Record' for 60 days after a Federal Minister Faisal Vawda, brought a military boot to mock the opposition.
- January 2020, the provincial Punjab assembly bans the publication and distribution of three books on Islamic history, and a newspaper “Al-Fazl” published by the Ahmadis, a minority-Muslim community alleging blasphemous. The banned books are; ‘The First Muslim’ and ‘After The Prophet’ by foreign author Lesley Hazleton, and ‘History of Islam’ by Mazharul Haq.
POLITICAL PARTIES ATTACKS AGAINST FREEDOM OF SPEECH AND FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION
- June 2020, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister, Shahbaz Gill angered when journalist Kashif Rafiq, working for the privately-owned channel News One asked about his involvement in the sexual harassment allegations at the Quaid-i-Azam University (QAU). Mr. Gill responded, “are you trying to establish a personal relationship with me,” something which is strongly culturally-inappropriate in Pakistan. The Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ), also issued a condemnatory statement and asked the Prime Minister, Imran Khan, “take notice of Shehbaz Gill’s highly objectionable remarks.” Mr. Gill belongs to the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).
- June 2020, a member of the Provincial Assembly of the Punjab, Fayaz-ul-Hasan Chohan, targeted senior journalist Hamid Mir and his father with unfounded remarks and calling them “traitors.” Mr. Mir is the veteran, non-partisan journalist known for his candid reporting over social injustice and corruption of the succeeding governments. On March 5, 2019, Mr. Chohan was temporarily removed as the Provincial Minister of Punjab for Information and Culture after inciting hate against the minority Hindu community and later reinstated as the Provincial Minister of Punjab for Colonies. On March 20, 2020, Mr. Chohan again made very disturbing comments about differently-abled people by calling them “punishment of Allah (God). Mr. Chohan belongs to the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).
- May 2020, Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) former senator Sehar Kamran writes to the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) Foreign Secretary, and The Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) asking deportation of Ms. Cynthia D. Ritchie. Ms. Ritchie is a US citizen and blogger living in Pakistan, and a supporter of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), she has been in the war of words with presumed liberals and recently criticized the slain PPP leader and former Prime Minister of Pakistan, Benazir Bhutto. Ms. Ritchie uses #ADifferentLens to explore the beauty of Pakistan and the hospitality of the Pakistani nation.
- May 2020, Provincial Minister of Punjab for School Education, Murad Raas bans New Year, Halloween, Valentine day and April fool from the provincial textbooks. He claims in his verified Twitter (@DrMuradPTI) account the ban meant to encourage Western values in Pakistan. The Minister belongs to the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).
- May 2020, Pakistan excluded the Muslim-minority Ahmadiyya community from the National Commission for Minorities (NCM).
The Ahmadis are one of the most persecuted communities in Pakistan. A former Prime Minister of Pakistan, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, has declared Ahmadiyya or
Qadyani as non-Muslim in 1974. Since then, hundreds of the members of the Ahmadiyya community have been killed, thrown in jails, and deprived of
employment opportunities. Tens of thousands have left Pakistan. Since the declaration, the Ahmadiyya community subjected to continuous persecution and
discrimination by the succeeding governments and vigilantes.
- May 2020, Pakistani Federal Minister for Religious Affairs and Inter-faith Harmony, Noor-ul-Haq Qadri, claimed that the “sympathizers and supporters of the Muslim-minority Ahmadiyya community can never be loyal to Islam and Pakistan,” in a TV show hosted by Nadeem Malik. The Minister belongs to the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).
- April 2020, from his verified Twitter account (@Ali_MuhammadPTI), Pakistan Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs, Ali Muhammad Khan, reiterated a long-standing demand of religious fanatics to behead the blasphemers while commenting on the inclusion of Muslim minority Ahmadiyya community in the Minorities Rights Commission. The Minister Khan belongs to the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).
- February 2020, Mian Akram Usman, General Secretary of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), Lahore, used billboards at the Mall Road insulting the minority Hindu community. The billboard has the official logo of the ruling PTI, pictures of the founder of Pakistan, Prime Minister Imran Khan, himself, and the language is “Hindu is not convinced of dialogue, but with a kick.” Later, Mr. Usman apologized.
- January 2020, Federal minister for science and technology, Fawad Chaudhry, assaulted and slapped TV anchor and host of “Khara Sach,” Mubasher Luqman. Mr. Luqman had reportedly asked the Minister about his involvement, and allegation by a TikTok famed girl. The Minister belongs to Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).
FREEDOM OF SPEECH AND FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION UNDER ATTACK ON CAMPUSES
- June 2020, police arrest dozens of students for protesting online classes and hefty fees across the Province of Balochistan. The impoverished and politically unsettled Province lacks either uninterrupted internet connectivity or no connectivity at all. Online learning is also depriving the students living in remote parts, tribal areas, and even in the slums of major cities like Karachi. Hundreds and thousands of the students cannot even afford a device in Pakistan.
- June 2020, Forman Christian College in Lahore forced physicist Professor Pervez Hoodbhoy and politics and history faculty member Ammar Ali Jan to resign for their Critical Thinking and liberal viewpoints. Police booked Mr. Jan under the sedition act for campaigning students’ rights and taking part in Students Solidarity March in 2019. Mr. Hoodbhoy is a widely respected figure in the liberal circle and a critic of the policies of the incumbents. The Forman College, however, linked the resignations with overstaffing and administrative policies.
- June 2020, the Capital University of Science and Technology expelled a student, Usman Mehmood, over protesting against online classes. The students in Pakistan are protesting over the sky-rocketing fee, poor dorm and transportation, and scarcity of internet access in the remote parts of the country, whereas thousands of students unable to afford laptops, smartphones, and high cost of internet.
- April 2020, millions of poor Pakistani students lacking devices, internet, and high costs of connectivity are deprived of online classes amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
- March 2020, Zaighum Abbas, a political science teacher at the Government College University (GCU), claimed that his teaching contract was not renewed because of promoting critical thinking in his lectures.
- February 2020, students affiliated with the religious party Islami Jamiat-e-Talba attacked the students to shut-down a cultural festival involving music at the Punjab University campus.
- February 2020, police attacked, assaulted and briefly detained dozens of protesting students and staffers of the Bolan University of Medical and Health in Quetta. The students and the staff are demanding fee cuts, better dorm facilities, and removal of the vice-chancellor.
- February 2020, Islamia College University of Peshawar forced five students to deactivate their video-sharing app, TikTok accounts.
- January 2020, the University of Pakistani administered Azad Jammu and Kashmir banned the students from wearing lipsticks, and impose a monetary penalty for violators.
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