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ASSAULTS | ARRESTS | HARASSMENT
- February 2, 2023: the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) arrested BOL News anchorperson and YouTuber Imran Riaz Khan at Allama Iqbal International Airport, Lahore. According to the police report (first information report – FIR), partly shared on social media verified accounts, Mr. Khan has been booked under the 2016 Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act (PECA) and the penal code. On January 30, 2023, Mr. Khan criticized retired army Chief Qamar Javed Bajwa for his alleged involvement in politics while addressing a seminar titled “violence against journalists in Pakistan.” February 3, 2023: a court ordered the release of Mr. Khan. Chronology of Arrests and Harassment:July 15, 2022: authorities barred Imran Riaz Khan, from flying to Dubai for medical tests. Mr. Khan alleged that something was harmful in the food given to him during his detention. He had a return ticket to Pakistan. July 5, 2022: provincial Punjab police arrested Imran Riaz Khan from Islamabad Toll Plaza. His arrest violated his pre-arrest bail by the court. More than a dozen police reports (FIRs) have been filed against Mr. Riaz across the country with charges from sedition to insulting the state institutions and inciting violence. Mr. Khan was released after the Lahore High Court (LHC) granted bail on July 9, 2022. Journalist Khan has been reporting intermittent police built-ups and drone surveillance around his house.
- January 2023: authorities arrested journalist Shahid Aslam, affiliated with Bol News, over his alleged involvement in the tax data leak and publishing a story of the retired army chief, Qamar Javed Bajwa, in Lahore. Mr. Aslam had reported that the former army chief and his family embezzled over Rs12.7 billion during Mr. Bajwa's tenure as army chief. The Pakistani government called the leak a breach of personal information. The counsel representing Mr. Aslam denied his client's involvement in the leakage of the information. High-ranking officers of the Pakistan armed forces are elites and considered above the law. January 19, 2023: a court granted bail to journalist Aslam.
- January 11, 2023: unknown attackers attacked, threw a grenade, and attempted to set ablaze the house of a senior journalist Muhammad Ali Turi in Kurram district, the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP). Journalist Turi's mother and daughter were home at the time of the attack but did not report injuries. Mr. Turi is the vice president of the Kurram press club, affiliated with the Suno (listen) radio station and Public TV. The police were investigating the motive of the attack.
MINORITIES | BLASPHEMY
- February 4, 2023: a mosque belonging to the Muslim minority Ahmadiyya (Ahmadi) community was shot at by some unidentified attackers in Satellite Town, the Sindh province. The bullets hit the walls. Some worshippers were inside the mosque, but no fatalities or injuries were reported. https://twitter.com/IamAmirMahmood/status/1622182898291077120RELIGIOUS PERSECUTION HATE CRIME The Sunni majority makes up 76-80% of the total population of Pakistan and vehemently refuses to call Ahmadis (Ahmadiyya or Qadyani) Muslims. The Sunni forced Ahmadis not to bury their dead bodies in the Sunni cemeteries. The Ahmadis are subjected to prolonged persecution in Pakistan. A former Prime Minister of Pakistan, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, declared Ahmadiyya or Qadyani “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 has been subjected to continuous persecution and discrimination by the succeeding governments and vigilantes. Ahmadiyya community is not allowed to call their worship place a masjid (mosque) like the rest of the Muslims. It is also a punishable offense for Ahmadis to call themselves Muslim or refer to their faith as Islam or use references from Muslim books. Under Sections 298-B & C of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC)." Section 298-C of the PPC prohibits the Ahmadiyya community to identify themselves as Muslims. Under Section 298-C of PPC, "Any person of the Qadiani group or the Lahori group (who call themselves "Ahmadis" or by any other name), who directly or indirectly poses himself as a Muslim, or calls, or refers to, his faith as Islam, or preaches or propagates his faith, or invites others to accept his faith, by words, either spoken or written, or by visible representations, or in any manner whatsoever outrages the religious feelings of Muslims, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years and shall also be liable to fine."
- February 3, 2023: religious fundamentalists vandalized and set on fire two mosques belonging to the Muslim minority Ahmadiyya (Ahmadi) community and damaged the property in Umerkot and Mirpurkhas, parts of the Sindh province. RELIGIOUS PERSECUTION HATE CRIME
- February 2, 2023: religious fundamentalists and supporters of a violent religious party attacked and demolished the minarets of a mosque belonging to the Muslim minority Ahmadiyya (Ahmadi) community in broader daylight while the police looked on at Preedy Street, Karachi. The Ahmadi community was struggling to file a police report. The police have yet to arrest the vandals who destroyed the minarets of an Ahmadi mosque a week ago in Karachi. Religious persecution hate crime
- January 22, 2023: in an apparent hate crime, religious fundamentalists sneaked into a cemetery and desecrated the graves, and attempted to burn the coffins of the Muslim minority Ahmadiyya (Ahmadi) community in Faisalabad, the Punjab province. Just a few days ago, the headstones of Ahmadi graves were destroyed in the said cemetery.
- January 21, 2023: religious fundamentalists stopped the Muslim minority Ahmadiyya (Ahmadi) community from burying a 75-year-old woman in the cemetery shared by the Muslim majority and minority communities in Chak Pero, Faisalabad, the Punjab province. The Ahmadi community then traveled an estimated 250 kilometers to bury the body. Religious persecutionhate crime
- January 2023: violating Article 20 of the Pakistan constitution and the Supreme Court of Pakistan 2014 ruling, the local police forced the Muslim minority Ahmadiyya (Ahmadi) community to remove minarets from their places of worship in Toba Tek Singh, the Punjab province. Religious persecution hate crime.
- January 18, 2023: in an apparent hate crime, religious fundamentalists sneaked into the mosque belonging to the Muslim minority Ahmadiyya (Ahmadi) community and damaged the minarets in Martin Road, Karachi.
- January 2023: the local police allegedly desecrated and demolished the minarets of a mosque belonging to the Muslim minority Ahmadiyya (Ahmadi) community at Moti Bazaar, Wazirabad. The police were acting upon a complaint filed under Section 298-B and 298-C of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) by a leader of the Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP), a party consisting of religious fundamentalists. The demolition and desecrations violate the Supreme Court of Pakistan ruling in 2014 to protect the minorities' worship places and ordered the government to establish a force to enforce the order.
- February 3, 2023: unidentified assailants attacked, discharged firearms, attempted to kidnap Hafeez Baloch, and assaulted Mr. Baloch, his family, and friends outside Karachi Central Jail. Mr. Baloch and his family sustained non-life-threatening injuries. The plain cloth attackers were riding the vehicles commonly used by law enforcement agencies (LEAs). Hafeez Baloch’s family and friends alleged LEAs for the attack and attempted kidnapping. Hafeez Baloch is the victim of enforced disappearances. He was an M.Phil. student at Quaid-e-Azam University (QAU) and preparing for the final semester at the time of his forcible disappearance in 2022. He was arrested abroad and handed to the Pakistani authorities, who concealed his custody for a long time. He was released by a court order when the attack occurred outside Karachi Jail.https://twitter.com/VeengasJ/status/1621857792968605696
- February 1, 2023: Baloch missing person activists and Baloch rights groups reported the enforced disappearances and kidnappings of at least twelve Baloch men from different parts of Pakistan in January 2023. Family, friends, and Baloch rights activists alleged security forces for the disappearances of Zohaib Raisani, Hamid S/O Bijjar, Ahmed S/O Ashraf, Babo S/O Hussain Ahmed, Raza Magsi, Abdul Khaliq Baloch S/O Ghulam Qambrani, Kiyya S/O Mohammad Ashraf, salam S/O Muhammad Azum, Khuda Rham, Naseeb-Ullah Shahwani S/O Bakhtawar Shahwani, Salam S/O Mohammad Azam, and Khuda Raheem S/O Mushki. Short-Term kidnapping: five men returned after being subjected to the short-term kidnapping; Noor Ahmad Hasni, Shams Saleh S/O Master Saleh, Atif S/O Mohammad Fazal, Sher Khan, and Basit Baloch. Returned: seven men returned after being missing for the past several months/ years; Suhail Baloch, Saud Naz, Yasir Bashir, Pir Jan Baloch, Siraj Noor, Arif Hamal, and Nadil Hussain.
- January 2023: rights activists identified two tortured bodies found in Balochistan province as Waheed Zehri and Sarang Marri. The Baloch rights activists alleged security forces for the abduction and killings of the victims. The security forces did not issue any clarification.
PLIGHT OF MEDIA AND WORKERS
- January 2023: civil society, journalist advocacy groups, and organizations joined the protests organized by the reporters of Pakistan's largest media house, Jang Group of Newspapers, over the non-payment of wages for the last three months. The group also owns Geo News and Geo TV Network.
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