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).
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."
ASSAULTS | ARRESTS | HARASSMENTS - 2020
- 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.
- 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 Haq Wahid, working for Channel Five and daily Khabrain newspaper, on allegations of posting defamatory remarks against State-institutions and officials on social media.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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
- 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, 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
- 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
- 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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