ASSAULTS | ARRESTS | HARASSMENT
- March 14, 2023: the powerful and politically connected land-grabbers attacked the media crew, injured Shahadat Baloch, a senior Cameraman affiliated with Aaj News, damaged the channel’s Digital Satellite News Gathering (DSNG) van and equipment in Gulistan-e-Johar, Karachi. Mr. Baloch was hit in the leg, but his injury was non-life-threatening. The media teams were on the spot for the coverage of the authorities’ action to vacate the land from allegedly illegal occupants. Over the years, the land mafia has emerged as an invincible force backed by politicians, influential, dominant individuals, and groups. Among many people who lost their lives resisting and blowing whistles against the land mafia, author, director of Orangi Pilot Project (OPP), and social activist Perween Rahman was murdered in 2013 for her activism. Another motive for the murder was intolerance towards other ethnicities. The court freed all four accused, citing a lack of evidence. However, the main suspect was handed a much lighter punishment than what was fitting to the crime.
- March 1, 2023: Dawn newspaper reported Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) “activists tortured some reporters and cameramen and damaged the equipment” in Toba Tek Singh, the Punjab province. A former PTI minister Farrukh Habib had invited the local media to celebrate a court order for the elections within 90 days. Journalists boycott the event after the assault. Sourcehttps://www.dawn.com/news/1739797
- February 28, 2023: police assaulted journalists Saqib Bashir Express-News, Zeeshan Syed Neo TV, Shah Khalid ARY News, Abbas Shabbir Bol News, and Idrees Abbasi GNN in the premises of the Islamabad High Court (IHC). The journalists alleged a deputy inspector general of police and an Assistant Commissioner were present and witnessed the assault. The Ramna precinct police refused to register a police report (known as the first information report – FIR), even though the police assault was captured by IHC surveillance cameras. The Press Association of Supreme Court (PAS), Islamabad High Court Journalists Association, and other journalist organizations appealed to Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah, but the government took no action. The reason for the police assault remained unclear, and no injuries have been reported. Eventually, after six days, the police registered a case. https://twitter.com/asifbashirch/status/1631300660049199104 https://twitter.com/MAZAMGILL5/status/1631991191645437953
- February 27, 2023: authorities arrested Amjad Shoaib, an octogenarian retired lieutenant general, You tuber, and analyst, under sections 153A (promoting enmity between different groups, etc) and 505 (statements conducing to public mischief) of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC), in Islamabad. Mr. Shoaib was booked after expressing his opinions in a TV show. On March 2, 2023, a court ordered Mr. Shoaib's release.
- February 20, 2023: a journalist Liaqat Hussain affiliated with the daily Qoum, filed a police report (first information report – FIR) against five known and 20 unidentified men for assault, robbery of Rs.27,300, a watch, his cell phone, and held him hostage, in Rahim Yar Khan, the Punjab province. Mr. Hussain sustained eye injuries. According to Mr. Hussain, the motive for the attack was his coverage of the land-grabbing.Source https://www.dawn.com/news/1738372/two-dozen-booked-for-torture-of-journalist
- February 18, 2023: senior journalist and anchorperson Hamid Mir reported via his verified Twitter account @HamidMirPAK the arrest of four journalists Ghulamullah Sial, Pervez Gopang, Ahmad Ali Rind, and Dost Ali in Khairpur, Sindh province. He also quoted the journalists' allegations that they were arrested for crime reporting and the police refusal to provide a copy of the police report (first information report – FIR) to their lawyer https://twitter.com/HamidMirPAK/status/1626900889524137984 . The Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Mir Rohal Khoso denied the claims of torture https://twitter.com/MirRohalPSP/status/1626937623020199938 and Tweeted the accused have been booked for extortion. However, the journalists were released upon the intervention of the provincial leadership. Later, journalist Ghulamullah Sial reiterated the torture claims and said the arrests were made purely because they reported on police and criminals collusion. https://twitter.com/HamidMirPAK/status/1626915281460420609
- February 17, 2023: police arrested Ahmed Abbas Orakzai, a founding member of the National Democratic Movement (NDM), a movement that claims to fight for the rights of Pashtuns in Kohat, the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province. Mr. Orakzai's party and friends called him a peace activist and said he has been arrested for welcoming Ali Wazir, a lawmaker who was released from jail after almost two years.
- February 16, 2023: a local court sentenced Sikander Zaman (@imsikanderzaman), a Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) supporter, for tweeting against the Pakistan army and its leadership. Mr. Zaman has been sentenced to three years with huge fines under sections 20 (Malicious code), 24(c) (Legal recognition of offenses committed to information system) of PECA (Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act) act 2016, sections 500 and 505 (Punishment for defamation) and 505 (statements conducing to public mischief) of the Pakistan Penal Code. According to the court, Zaman was part of a “highly obnoxious and intimidating campaign.” Six army officers were martyred in a helicopter crash while performing flood relief duties on August 1, 2022.
- 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
- March 16, 2023: transgender rights activist and the violence case manager at Gender Interactive Alliance shared footage of the people harassing and threatening her. Ms. Shahzadi called the intruders “clerics” who were holding acid bottles, hurled life threats, and intended to harm her. Ms. Shahzadi said this was the fourth time the intruders show up at her door. She was not home at the time of the occurrence, and her friend, who was at home, made the footage. The police have registered a case. https://twitter.com/ShahzadiRai/status/1636301327218122753 https://twitter.com/ShahzadiRai/status/1636347590135382018
- February 25, 2023: unidentified armed attackers attacked Marvia Malik, Pakistan's first transgender News Anchor, and Trans rights activist, in Lahore, the Punjab province. Malik told the police that she had been receiving threats for some time over raising her voice for the rights of the transgender community. She said her activism is the motive for the attack. Malik remained unhurt in the attack. In 2018, a privately owned Kohenoor TV hired Marvia Malik.
- February 18, 2023: violent offenders accused and tortured Nosh, a teenage Christian sanitary worker, for stealing a cell phone in Malir Christian colony, Karachi. After Nosh repeated denials of committing the theft, the attackers kidnapped, tied, and tortured Nosh all night in a nearby house. The brutal torture marks were visible all over the body of Nosh. Later, the investigation proved Nosh's innocence, and the offenders released him.https://twitter.com/FreedomTalkNet/status/1631239153101750272
- February 2023: armed attackers shot dead Muhammad Osama alias Mahnoor and critically injured Israr alias Gulalai, members of the Transgender community in Swat, the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province. The police claimed to have identified the suspects and conducted the raids for arrest. The motive of the murder is still under investigation.
- February 11, 2023: religious fundamentalists attacked a police station, dragged a blasphemy suspect in custody out of the station, beat him to death, and burnt his body over blasphemy allegations in Nankana Sahib, the Punjab province. Before lynching the victim, the mob stripped him and dragged him on the streets. The victim Muhammad Waris was in custody over allegations of desecrating the Holy Book of Islam and sorcery. According to the police, hundreds of angry people gathered outside the station and demanded the custody of the victim, but the police ran away to save their own lives. After Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif's notice, two senior police officers were suspended for protecting the victim, and the police arrested 12 suspects. RELIGIOUS PERSECUTION HATE CRIME In February 2022, an enraged mob stoned to death a 41-year-old man Mushtaq Ahmed and hanged his body from a tree over blasphemy allegations in Mian Channu, the Punjab province. According to police, “the mosque custodian has seen Mr. Ahmed burning the pages of the Muslims Holy Book, and he informed other people first and later came to the police.” The police claimed eight policemen were also injured who tried to save Mr. Ahmed and arrested 80 suspects. A fierce backlash on social media accused the police of not protecting Mr. Ahmed. A 49-year-old Sri Lankan man Priyantha Kumara Diyawadana was lynched over blasphemy allegations on December 3, 2021, in Sialkot, the Punjab province.
- February 10, 2023: religious fundamentalists desecrated five graves and removed Islamic inscriptions from the entrance of a shop belonging to the Muslim minority Ahmadiyya (Ahmadi) community in Talwandi Khajoorwali, Gujranwala, the Punjab province. RELIGIOUS 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 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
- 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.
- March 1, 2023: (February 2023) family and friends and the activists of the Baloch missing persons reported that Saud Badini S/O Abdul Baqi, Khurram Badini S/O Abdul Samad (students), Muzammil Qambrani (poet); Qambrani returned after days, Rasheeda Zehri and Rahim Zehri (husband/ wife), Rahim’s mother and two daughters were also picked up, but released after spending two days in captivity; daughter-in-law returned after days in February 2023. Security forces kidnapped Another Balcoh woman Mahal Baloch, after a fierce backlash and countrywide protests, the counter-terrorism department (CTD) presented Mahal Baloch in court; the CTD alleged that Mahal was planning a suicide attack. Family, friends, and rights activists denied the CTD claims. http://freedomtalk.net/ found numerous legal flaws and discrepancies in the police report (first information report – FIR) dispelling the police allegations against Mahal Baloch. Returned in February 2023: Zohaib Raisani, Mohammad Riaz, and Mohammad Azam.
- February 17, 2023: family and friends alleged security forces for the enforced disappearances of Human Rights Council of Balochistan Chairperson BIBI Gul's mother Mehnaz, four other women, Mahal, Nugrah, Nazeenk, and Banadi; all women belong to the same family. The victim's family and friends alleged that law enforcement agencies (LEAs) for the attack, torture, and kidnappings. https://twitter.com/HRCBalochistan/status/1626938321917169665
- February 3, 2023: 65-year-old Bibi Khantoon, her son Rahim Zehri, daughter-in-law Rasheeda Zehri and two grandkids aged four and one years, tortured and kidnapped from their home in Khuzdar, province of Balochistan. Bibi Khatoon and her grandkids were released after two days, while Mrs. Zehri returned home on February 14, while Mr. Zehri is still missing. On February 14, Rights activists, civil society, and members of the public protested in front of the Balochistan press club for the unjust arrest and forced disappearances. Balochistan provincial Interior Minister Zia Lango said, "the Government departments are not aware of such incident.” The kidnappers repeatedly hit Bibi Khatoon in the head before arrest. Rahim’s family and friends alleged that law enforcement agencies (LEAs) for the attack, torture, and kidnappings. https://twitter.com/BBCUrdu/status/1625665231731974145
- 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.
CENSORSHIPS | BANS | FINES
- March 5, 2023: Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) suspended the license of the privately-owned ARY News for airing what PEMRA called the "content in willful defiance" of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader and ousted Prime Minister Imran Khan's speeches. Over the past few months, PEMRA has intermittently banned ARY News, Imran Khan, and his supporters. The ban was imposed under section 30 of the PEMRA ordinance 2002 as amended by PEMRA (Amendment Act 2007). Imran Khan has been sharply criticizing and alleging retired army chief Qamar Javed Bajwa for his ouster. PEMRA statement read, “airing of baseless allegations, the hateful, slanderous and unwarranted statement against state institutions and officers was in sheer violation of Article 19 of the Constitution of Pakistan and a judgment of the Supreme Court of Pakistan passed in a Suo Moto case." https://twitter.com/Riazhaq/status/1632593521000546304 March 7, 2023: The Sindh High Court (SHC) ordered immediate restoration of ARY News.
- February 28, 2023: the Central Board of Film Censors (CBFC) banned Mariam Khan and Ahmen Khawaja's short documentary My Mother’s Daughter, scheduled screening On International Women’s Day. The CBFC termed the film “unsuitable for the exhibition for the reasons that the short documentary seems more a propaganda. Unauthenticated judicial procedure shown, wrong values are highlighted, which is against the Pakistani culture & society.” The filmmakers were given fifteen days to appeal. The film was about a child marriage and the forced conversion of a Christian girl. The filmmakers denied the CBFC allegation of propaganda. Human rights groups in Pakistan believe that as many as 1,000 Christian, Hindu, and Sikh girls, an estimated 80% of them are teenaged kidnapped each year in Pakistan for forced conversion and marriages. Still, some independent groups claimed the numbers are underreported. The United Nations (UN) experts have written a letter to the government of Pakistan's action on coerced religious conversions and forced child marriage. Pakistan:UN experts urge action on coerced religious conversions, forced and child marriage | OHCHR https://www.instagram.com/p/CpiSAYPMAEC/?utm_source=ig_embed&ig_rid=5a82d833-3b7d-4d76-a775-7477375f5bfa
- February 1, 2023: Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) degraded Wikipedia, a multilingual free online encyclopedia. The PTA said in a press release, “Wikipedia services degraded over unlawful content.” On February 7, 2023, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif ordered the PTA to fully restore Wikipedia. The PM formed a committee to remove what he (Pakistan) believes is objectionable content.
PLIGHT OF MEDIA AND WORKERS
- March 17, 2023: civil society, journalists, advocacy groups, and media organizations joined the protests in front of the office of Jang group at Al-Rahman Building I.I.Chundrigar Road, Karachi. The reporters and newsroom staff of Pakistan's largest media house, Jang Group of Newspapers, protested over the non-payment of wages for months. The group also owns Geo News and Geo TV Network. According to Mudassar Saeed, Journalist, Senior Executive Producer at North Geo News, the employees demand 1: Overdue increments amidst inflation 2: Salaries on Time 3: Provident Fund 4: Gratuity. https://twitter.com/mudsays/status/1635980104898682882 https://twitter.com/mudsays/status/1636024526172553217
- 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.
FREEDOM OF SPEECH AND FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION UNDER ATTACK ON CAMPUSES
- March 6, 2023: Just weeks apart, Saqlain Bangash, a security officer, was killed on Peshawar University Campus, and lecturer Bashir Ahmed at Islamia College Peshawar. The police arrested the suspect and termed Mr. Bangash killing a mistake by his fellow security officer. According to the police, the killing of Mr. Ahmed ensued from intermittent arguments between the victim and the suspect. Peshawar University is a heavily guarded property with a massive presence of security forces. Senses of insecurity and uncertainty have gripped the staff and the students. The administration, staff, and students remain in constant fear in the university and call for the mental assessment of the security staff.
- February 27, 2023: authorities deployed heavy contingents of paramilitary troops, anti-terrorism squads, and police at the Quaid-i-Azam University (QAU) Islamabad after fierce clashes among student groups of different ethnicities that left many students injured. Authorities arrested and booked several students and forced the female occupants of the dormitory in the middle of the night without relocating arrangements.
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