Monitors Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Expression in Pakistan
Support Independent & Impartial Journalism
BANK AL HABIB LIMITED:
IBAN – PK86 BAHL 1007 – 0071 – 0038 - 0201
Account number:1007 – 0071 – 0038 - 0201 - 7
ASSAULTS | ARRESTS | HARASSMENT
- February 2024: Political activists affiliated with Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) targeted journalists Gharida Farooqi, Saddia Mazhar, and acclaimed Digital Rights activist and member of the UNSG AI Advisory Body, Nighat Dad, with obnoxious trolls, threats and character assassination threads on social media for doing their job. NewsDesk.
- February 7, 2024: Shaista Shahzad, wife of Salman Mirza, affiliated with the privately-owned channel Bol News, informed about the arrest of Mr. Mirza. In a video statement, she said, “Around 3 a.m. on the night of February 6, 2024, (February 7) police and plainclothes individuals rang the bell and told they had come to take Salman. They asked for Salman’s cell phone but did not allow him in the house to pick up the phone. Instead, they asked him to tell his wife to hand you the phone. The police did not give the reason for Salman’s arrest or a chance to talk to his family. The next day, Shaista Shahzad went to the police station to file a police report (commonly known as the first information report FIR). However, the police refused to register the FIR and denied the information on the whereabouts of Mr. Mirza. After repeated requests from Mrs. Mirza, the police asked her to write an application. Mrs. Mirza did so, but the police did not give her the receipt of the application as they had promised. The police said, we have no order from SHO (Station House Officer, in in-charge of the police station) to give you the receiving of your application.” She gave her statement 48 hours after Mr. Mirza’s arrest and termed the incident Enforced Disappearance. A social media post that announced the protest for the recovery of Salman Mirza, his date of alleged abduction was reported as February 5, 2024.
- February 6, 2024: On January 25, PNN reporter Noroz Rana was assaulted by supporters of the Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) political party during a rally in Vehari, Punjab. Rana told PPF that he was interviewing attendees for their opinions while covering the rally in Vehari. Some younger participants expressed support for another party, Pakistan Tehreek Insaf, prompting Rana to ask them why they were attending a PML-N event. This led to a confrontation when a PML-N supporter accused Rana of trying to discredit the rally and incite violence against him. Two individuals, purportedly supporters of the party, verbally assaulted Rana, slapped him, and destroyed his camera. They also attacked him with his microphone, targeting his eye. Rana noted that the incident occurred towards the rally’s conclusion when many reporters had left. He reported the incident to his organization and filed a complaint with the Vehari District Police Officer (DPO). Adnan Tariq, the Public Relations Officer to the DPO, told PPF that officers are currently preoccupied with election duties, the DPO is aware of Rana’s situation and will take appropriate action following the elections. In another incident, on January 30, at a political gathering in Lahore, the Talon News team, including reporter Hanooq, driver Hammad, and cameraperson Farooq, faced violence at the hands of PML-N supporters. Source & Full Story
- January 25, 2024: The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) cybercrime branch sent notices to the court reporters, YouTubers, and journalists criticizing the Court’s ruling that deprived Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) of their signature “cricket bat” election symbol. The FIA targeted 519 individuals, at least 115 inquiries have been registered, and 65 notices served over allegations of Explicit and malicious campaigns against Hon judges of the Supreme Court of Pakistan on social media. Court reporter Mati Ullah Jan and YouTuber Asad Ali Toor are among those who received the FIA notices. Later, Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Qazi Faez Isa used suo motu powers against the FIA list including 47 journalists and YouTubers. and ordered the FIA to withdraw the notices against journalists. On January 17, 2024, the caretaker government formed a Joint Investigation Team (JIT) to find the sources behind a malicious social media campaign against SC judges after the court ruling that stripped PTI from the bat election symbol. NewsDesk.
- January 25, 2024: Workers of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) on Thursday attacked a team of Naya Daur during a reporting assignment in Bilawal Bhutto's constituency of NA-127 in Lahore. They roughed up Naya Daur's team and destroyed camera equipment while illegally confiscating the media storage drive in the camera. The incident took place on Ghazi Road in Lahore on Thursday afternoon. The area falls within the remits of NA-127, where PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari is contesting elections. Source & Full Story.
- January 14, 2024: Unidentified pillion riders shot and injured Shoaib Burney, the bureau chief of the privately-owned Sunu TV channel, in Gulshan-i-Iqbal, Karachi. Mr. Burney was taken to the hospital and treated for the bullet injury in his left hand. His injuries were not life-threatening. The police registered a case under Section 324 (attempted murder) and 34 (common intention) of the Pakistan Penal Code. Motive: Undetermined. NewsDesk.
TARGETING DISSENTS, RIGHTS MOVEMENTS, ACTIVISTS AND PROTESTERS
- February 16, 2024: Unidentified armed pillion riders killed Hidayat Lohar, a Sindhi nationalist leader, teacher, political activist, and campaigner against enforced disappearances in Naseerabad, Sindh province. The police were reluctant to register the case several hours after his assassination. He was the father of the Voice for Missing Persons of Sindh leaders Surath Lohar and Sassi Lohar. Mr. Lohar disappeared between April 2017 and May 2019 and was declared a missing person. However, the family called it an enforced disappearance. Mr. Lohar and his family reported repeated police intimidation for their activism in the past. The family called the murder the targeted killing and denied personal enmities. NewsDesk Motive: Undetermined
- February 11, 2024: NORTH WAZIRISTAN: Two National Democratic Movement workers were killed and 15 others, including party chairman Mohsin Dawar, injured when police allegedly opened fire on a protest in Miramshah Cantonment on Saturday. The protest was being held outside the RO’s office over delayed election results in the National Assembly constituency NA-40, where Mr Dawar was a candidate.NDM’s provincial chairperson Bushra Gohar condemned the “cowardly attack” on Mr Dawar and held the ECP responsible for the incident, Dawn.com reported.
- January 29, 2024: Karachi police on Monday registered a case against PTI workers and leaders under terror charges for “resorting to vandalism” during what it called was an “unlawful assembly” at Teen Talwan in Clifton a day earlier. On Sunday, dozens of PTI workers were arrested as they took out rallies and processions on the call of founder Imran Khan. The power show was the first major party gathering since May 9 — when violent protests erupted across the country following Imran’s arrest. Over 20 PTI workers were arrested in Karachi yesterday after clashing with police at the Teen Talwar monument. According to the police, the party didn’t have an NOC to hold a rally in the so-called Red Zone. Meanwhile, the PTI said it had “informed” the district administration about their gathering, adding that other parties were holding rallies on the sites of their choice, but they were being deprived of this constitutional right. Source and Full Story.
- January 28, 2024: Police arrested 15 protesters affiliated with the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM) for demanding the release of their leader, Manzoor Ahmad Pashteen, in Lahore, the Punjab province. The police said the arrests were made over violation of Section 144. NewsDesk. Section 144 prohibits gathering of four or more people in the concerned area. Pakistani authorities arbitrarily and widely use Section 144 to avoid lawful protests and rampant impose ahead of general elections, scheduled for February 8, 2024. PTM claims the representation of the rights of those affected by the war against militancy and what the PTM believes oppressions of the armed forces in the tribal areas. February 7, 2024: Mr. Pashteen was released from Attock jail.
- January 26, 2024: The residents of Gilgit Baltistan (GB) closed their businesses and observed a wheel-jammed protest to demand the status of a province for GB, protection for the environment, termination of Sehat (medical) card, finance bill, and against an increase in the wheat subsidy. Awami Action Committee (AAC) had organized the protest. Millions of the residents struggled to use the internet and mobile phones after authorities blocked the networks to hide the protest. The protest continued for over a month. NewsDesk. February 02, 2024: Daily The News reported that the Awami Action Committee (AAC) to continue the protest while rejecting the government's notification to withdraw the recently increased prices of subsidised wheat. Chief Coordinator Awami Action Committee Ehsan Ali Advocate said that the protest is not on one point but for the implementation of the 15-point Charter of Demand. Full Story. Gilgit-Baltistan, formerly known as the Northern Areas, is a region administered by Pakistan as an administrative territory and consists of the northern portion of the larger Kashmir region, which has been the subject of a dispute between India and Pakistan since 1947 and between India and China since 1959.
- January 9, 2024: The police booked Khizar Qazi, the Sindh province Vice-Chair of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP). The HRCP reported “HRCP strongly condemns the filing of a police report against its Sindh vice-chair, @khizarqaziKHI, and other rights activists on fabricated charges of sedition after they took part in a rally in Karachi in solidarity with the Baloch Yakjehti Committee, whose members are currently encamped in Islamabad to protest against extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances. Source
- January 8, 2024: Police raided the house of the former lawmaker Nisar Panhwar and arrested him and his son Mohsin Panhwar. The police had no warrants or legitimate grounds to arrest the father and son. Mr. Nisar is affiliated with the banned Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM-L), led by self-exiled leader Altaf Hussain. Authorities have intensified arbitrary arrests of the dissents and critics ahead of the Elections, scheduled in February this year. However, Mr. Nisar is contesting the elections as an independent candidate following the government ban on MQM-L to participate in elections. Source On February 1, 2024, the police registered a case, commonly known as the first information report FIR, after the Sindh High Court (SHC) order. The FIR has the date January 9, 2024, of the occurrence, the day Mr. Nisar and his son Mohsin Nisar were reported abducted, allegedly by the law enforcement agencies (LEAs). In August 2022, authorities arrested ex-parliamentarian Nisar Panhwar and 17 activists affiliated with the banned faction of the Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM), led by self-exiled leader Altaf Hussain. Mr. Panhwar challenged the media ban on MQM London-based Altaf Hussain in court by saying the media ban violates Articles 4, 17, 19, and 25 of the Constitution. The LEAs released Mr. Panhwar after 42 days of illegal custody.
- January 5, 2024: Police booked Mahrang Baloch, a Pakistani Baloch rights activist, against unlawful enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killing allegedly by the authorities in Balochistan, Pakistan, and Manzoor Ahmad Pashteen, a Pakistani Pashtun rights activist from war-torn South Waziristan. He is the chairman of the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM). The police in rural Sindh province booked both the nationalist leaders and 30 activists over allegations of slogans against the country and the armed forces of Pakistan. The police booked Ms. Baloch, Mr. Pashhteen, and others under section 124-A of the Pakistan Penal Code in Khairpur, Sindh province. Surprisingly, Ms. Baloch and Mr. Pashhteen have never been to the jurisdiction of the Police Station Wadda Machyoon in Khairpur, where the police report has been registered. Mahrang Baloch's father was abducted on December 12, 2009, and never returned. Her brother was abducted in December 2017 and released after three months. Ms. Baloch has struggled to find her father’s whereabouts since adolescence. She, her family, and rights activists allege security forces for the abduction of her father and brother. She is also the leader of the Baloch Yakjehti Committee. For more details, check our Annual Report 2023 TARGETING DISSENTS, RIGHTS MOVEMENTS, ACTIVISTS, AND PROTESTERS part. NewsDesk. January 24, 2024: The protesters ended the protest.
MINORITIES | BLASPHEMY
- February 12, 2024: An Ahmadi man, Wajid Hussain, sustained serious injuries after miscreants attacked the worship place of the Ahmadiyya community and demolished its minarets and arch (mehrab) in Kotli district of Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) on Monday. More than 50 attackers equipped with hammers, shovels, and sticks stormed the worship place and demolished its four minarets. Two of the attackers also fired shots in the air to spread fear among the community. An Ahmadi woman named Zahida Parveen was also injured during the attack on their worship place in broad daylight. The injured have been shifted to District Hospital Kotli for first aid. The community has submitted a written complaint about the incident to Kotli police. It is pertinent to mention here that opponents of Jamaat-e-Ahmadiyya were demanding the demolition of minarets of Ahmadis’ worship place (Ahmadiyya Bait Ul Zikr). They had given the administration an ultimatum to demolish minarets until December 16, 2023; otherwise, they would attack the worship place and demolish themselves. It is pertinent to mention here that on November 24, 2023, miscreants demolished the minarets of Ahmadis' worship place in Kotli. Source In the later updates, the activists claimed that the assailants injured 8 Ahmadi men and 5 Ahmadi women during this assault.
- February 01, 2024: LAHORE: The Ahmadi community has announced dissociation from the general elections. Community’s spokesperson Amir Mahmood said currently there is one voter list that includes all religious groups including Muslims, Hindus, Christians, Zoroastrians, and Sikhs, whereas in the case of Ahmadis, a separate voter list is being prepared bearing the title “Qadiani Men/Women”, and termed it an attempt to disenfranchise Ahmadi citizens from the electoral process. Source 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 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 from identifying 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."
- January 29, 2024: Armed religious fundamentalists affiliated with Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) tortured the men who were digging the grave for a dead person, Fazal Kareem, belonging to the Muslim minority Ahmadiyya (Ahmadi) community in Sehwala, Shaikhupura, the Punjab province. The graveyard has a designated spot for Ahmadis, with two graves already there. As the participants of the funeral, both Ahamdis and non-Ahmadis started burying the body, a cleric affiliated with the TLP returned to the graveyard and contacted other members of the TLP. The TLP members gathered, tortured the funeral participants, and buried the digging tools in the grave instead of the body. The police intervened and de-escalated the situation. Later, the body of deceased Fazal Kareem was buried more than a hundred kilometers away in Rabwah. NewsDesk. RELIGIOUS PERSECUTION / HATE CRIME Over the years, Pakistan has been surrendering to the demands of Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP), a party of violent religious fundamentalists, overt supporters of blasphemy laws, and anti-minority Shia and Ahmadiyya. TLP used every opportunity to seize the streets of large cities in the country to terrorize minorities. The TLP has killed and injured several civilians and law enforcement officers, destroyed federal and public properties worth billions of rupees, and brought the country to a halt in 2017, 2018, 2020, and 2021. In November 2021, fearing the seizure of the capital city of Islamabad and the parliament, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) unbanned TLP and released all the detainees, including those who were charged with the killings of civilians and at least 12 policemen. Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) banned the coverage of TLP occupation and attacks to hide the killings and destruction. In June 2023, the coalition government of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) surrendered to the demands of TLP and agreed on speedy trials for blasphemy accused, de-notify all Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) and Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) notifications against the TLP, and the accused under 295C would also be charged under the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA) Section 7, and technology to filter the blasphemous material from social media. In August 2023, The Senate amended the Pakistan Penal Code 1860 and the Code of Criminal Procedure 1898 to increase the punishments for those who disrespect Ahle Bait or Sahaba-e-Karam (family and friends of Prophet Muhammad). The amendments were celebrated by the radicals while minorities feared more deaths and destruction.
- January 24, 2024: The Muslim minority Ahmadiyya (Ahmadi) community reported that the provincial Punjab police desecrated the tombstones of Ahmadi graves in Musay Wala Daska, the Punjab province. The government of Punjab had allotted the graveyard to the Ahmadi community. Source In another incident the very same day, the police desecrated another Ahmadi graveyard and sprayed black paint on the tombstones of Ahmadi graves in Bharoke, the Punjab province. Source RELIGIOUS PERSECUTION / HATE CRIME
- January 1, 2024: Minority rights activists and groups monitoring abductions, forced conversions, and forced marriages of minority girls reported at least five incidents of abductions, forced conversions, and forced marriages in December 2023. Three minor Hindu girls, Anita Meghwar, Indra, and Jaishree Kolhi, were allegedly abducted, converted, and married to the abductors. One minor Hindu girl, Narna Bheel, and a married Hindu woman Premi, and her child were abducted from different parts of the Sindh province. Each year, as many as 700 Hindu and Christian girls, mostly minors, are kidnapped in Pakistan, while many cases remain underreported. The court rulings often side with the kidnappers as police collude with the criminals. The majority of the victims belong to underprivileged families. The rapists use marriage and forced conversion to Islam as a convenient method to get away with rape charges of minority underage girls. The Islamabad High Court (IHC) banned marriages below 18, which carries a penalty of up to Rs200,000, and three years and rigorous jail time for the facilitators. However, the kidnappers have been filing fake evidence of the victim's age, and the courts have been accepting the paper admissible despite the objections and alternative proofs of age from the kidnapped girl's parents. POLITICAL MEDDLING: Sindh province is ruled by the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), predominantly consisting of wealthy landowners with political inheritance. PPP vehemently protects the Bhutto family and the vested interests of its members while people continue to beg for clean water, medical, transportation, jobs, security, and cleanliness. Mian Abdul Haq, commonly known as "Mian Mitthu," is the ringleader of forced marriages and forced conversions of underage minority girls in the Sindh province also belongs to the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP).
ENFORCED DISAPPEARANCES | EXTRAJUDICIAL KILLINGS
ENFORCED DISAPPEARANCE IS A VIOLATION OF MANY INTERNATIONAL LAWS INCLUDING UNGA RESOLUTION 65/209 OF 2006 AND ARTICLE 10 OF THE CONSTITUTION OF PAKISTAN
- February 1, 2024: Sindhi rights groups reported the enforced disappearance and, arrests of at least 30 Sindhi nationalist men during January 2024. The names of the individuals; Kamran Khokhar, Arbab Bheel (political activist), Zahid Dahri, Pathan Khan Zohrani, Bilal Sher, Saeed Tanio, Waqr Dahani, Asif Sangi, Rehman Dino Mahesar (lawyer), Ameer Jamali, Irshahd Noohani, Muhammad Kousi, Faqir Ijaz Gehe, Sajan Malukani, Shaukat Malukani, Naeem Malukani, Syed Uzair Shah, Sain Ayoub, Insaf Dahi, Kashif Tagar, Murtaza Junejo, Suhail Raza Bhatti, Mohan Meghwar, Sarwech Noohani, Zafar Chandni, Allah Wadai Mehar, Dr. Fateh Muhammad Khosa, Faqir Ijaz Gahi, Syed Aziz Shah and Naveed Mirani. Booked: Ghani Aman Chandio, Amir Mangrio, and Ali Raza Brohi. Short-Term Disappearance: Qurban Imrani. Friends and rights activists alleged the arrests, raids, and police cases are politically motivated and linked to the individual’s political affiliations and the security forces for enforced disappearances. Translation & Edited by Ali. H. Chang
- February 1, 2024: Baloch missing person activists and Baloch rights groups reported the enforced disappearances and kidnappings of at least 22 Baloch men during January 2024. The names of the individuals; Ghulam Rasool S/O Suleman, Suhail S/O Moosa, Aziz S/O Mehar Dil, Balach S/O Rauf, Imam Jan S/O Sawali, Hassan S/O Asif, Jasim S/O Mohammad Bux, Ismail S/O Jumadar, Sala Bugti S/O Gago Bugti, Balochi poet Qasim Malar, Ismail S/O Shahi dad, Hafeezullah S/O Abdul Hameed, Aslam S/O Karim, Hammal S/O Qadir Bux, Ghous Bux S/O Miran Bux Bugti, Rahim Dad S/O Haji Bugti, Atta Ullah S/O Gohar Khan Bugti, Faisal S/O Hanif Bugti, Shah Hussain S/O Shah Gul, Akhtar Balanzai S/O Aman Ullah, Wahid Bux S/O Pir Muhammad, and Mehboob Baloch. Short-term Disappearance: Bahadur S/O Chakar Sakna. Returned: Badeen and Jibran. Late Updates: Ali Ahmad Shahwani S/O Noor Ahmad, a police officer, disappeared while on his way home from work in Ziarat Balochistan on July 26, 2021. Source Friends and rights activists alleged security forces for enforced disappearances and arbitrary arrests.
- January 1, 2024: Baloch missing person activists and Baloch rights groups reported the enforced disappearances and kidnappings of at least 30 Baloch men during December 2023. The names of the individuals; Balochi singer Diljan Deedar, his brother Shah Hussain, and Cousin Yasir Ghulam; Zulfiqar Baloch, Sakim (student), Salman (student), Amir, Zubair (student), Abdullah Saleh (Baloch Raj leader), Asif Baloch, Miraj Khalid, Jamil Baloch, Maqsood S/O Gheram, Asif S/O Khair Bux, Miraj S/O Nasir, Bazoo S/O Mehran Bugti, Nazar Ali S/O Bazeer, Noorullah S/O Seedan Bugti, Ali Jan S/O Tosho Bugti, Ghulam Mustafa S/O Mehar Ali, Mir Ahmad S/O Nazar Muhammad, Shafi S/O Dreehan Bugti, Qadir Bux S/O Wahid Bux, Iqbal S/O Saeen Bux Bugti, Rasool Bux S/O Ghulam Rasool Bugti, Pasindar S/O Rehmat Bugti, Chitta S/O Sahib Marri, Khair Jan S/O Mehar, Muhammad Aslam Baloch, and Muhammad Jan S/O Peer Jan. Short-term Disappearance: Badeen and Jibran. Returned: Jan Muhammad Kurd returned after nine years. Late Updates: Naqibullah Jamaldini S/O Khairullah, missing since January 7, 2023, from Noshki, Balochistan. Family, friends, and rights activists alleged security forces for enforced disappearances and arbitrary arrests.
CENSORSHIPS | BANS | FINES
- February 17, 2024: The Karachi Literature Festival (KLF) canceled the invitation sent to Ronya Othmann, a German author, poet, and journalist, over allegations of her support to Israel and anti-Palestine statements. The pro-Palestine activists had protested and started an online petition against Ms. Othmann's participation. According to a slide at the KLF site, “Ronya Othmann will not be attending KLF, and her sessions, therefore, have been canceled. We apologise for any inconvenience caused.”
- February 8, 2024: Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) had complained that Geo News, ARY News, GNN and Dawn News had violated ECP code of conduct and PEMRA law by conducting exclusive interviews of leaders of various political parties. PEMRA has given the management of the news channels seven days to file a reply in personal hearing after which further action would be taken. Source & Full Story. NetBlocks, a watchdog organization that monitors Internet freedom, tracking cybersecurity, digital governance of the Internet, connectivity, and democracy, confirmed “Live metrics show a nation-scale disruption to X/Twitter across #Pakistan; the incident comes amid political turmoil after a controversial election held under an internet and mobile network blackout.”
- February 08, 2024: Pakistan blocked mobile phones and disrupted the internet for over 12 hours on Election Day. International watchdogs and rights groups like the United Nations human rights body, Amnesty International, and many other rights organizations have called Pakistan for uninterrupted phone and internet service to ensure the fairness of elections. The communication breakups deprived hundreds of thousands of voter of their rights to the franchise as they struggled to find their names in the voting lists, voting staff lacked the information and failed to contact authorities over intimidations and riggings, and Pakistan came to a standstill. In the past, Pakistani authorities repeatedly blocked the internet to enforce censorship of Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI). Each internet suspension causes colossal damage to the economy. The government of Pakistan said the mobile phone service was suspended due to the loss of the precious lives of people in growing incidents of terrorism and the safety of the citizens. Over forty citizens and law enforcement officers were killed in blasts within a week before Election Day. NewsDesk.
- February 8, 2024: Police officials deployed at a polling station in Lahore barred an Al Jazeera team from entering citing orders from “top management” to not allow any media teams inside the premises. Amid widespread concerns over rigging and manipulation, the Election Commission of Pakistan has issued special passes for observers and journalists granting them permission to “visit polling stations and offices to observe polling and consolidation of results”. Voters are strictly barred from taking mobile phones inside. Source
- February 2, 2024: Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) blocked Fact Focus, an investigative website focussing on Pakistani affairs. According to Fact Focus, “Eight days ahead of the general elections, Pakistan has blocked the Fact Focus website, an investigative news platform. The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) issued a notice to Fact Focus on December 21, 2023, claiming their story on former army General Qamar Javed Bajwa's assets was false and based on hearsay. The notice issued more than one year after the publication of General Qamar Bajwa assets story in November 2022. While referring to General Qamar Bajwa story PTA wrote to Fact Focus, “WHEREAS it has been reported to Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (the “Authority”) that your Website i.e https://factfocus.com (“Platform”) is hosting content with intent to ridicule, defame the Armed Forces of Pakistan, circulated false reports containing rumors or alarming news to promote ill-will in order to provoke anti-state sentiments, cause disharmony, feelings of enmity among masses at large which is prejudicial to the integrity, sovereignty and security of Pakistan.” Fact Focus was in the process of responding to the PTA notice and preparing to release an investigation on the 2024 General Elections on February 03 when the government announced the block. Fact Focus has never propagated anything wrong against Pakistan Army. Fact Focus always reported truth based on facts and documentary evidence. The website came under attack and was taken down. No data or information was compromised. We are making efforts to restore it. However, it will not be available in Pakistan because of the PTA blockade. Undeterred, Fact Focus remains committed to reporting the truth, backed by facts and evidence. Facing censorship, cyberattacks, continuous malicious campaigns by some media houses in Pakistan and legal challenges, Fact Focus vows to fight for freedom of expression and will challenge the PTA's order in courts.” Source
- January 31, 2024: Multiple online posts claim that authorities have blocked access to the official websites of the political party, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), ahead of the parliamentary election on February 8. The claim is true. Source and Full Story
- January 20, 2024: NetBlocks, a watchdog organization that monitors Internet freedom, tracking cybersecurity, digital governance of the Internet, connectivity, and democracy, confirmed a nation-scale disruption to social media platforms across Pakistan, including X/Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube; the incident comes as persecuted opposition leader Imran Khan's political party, PTI, launches its second virtual gathering. This is the third time authorities disrupted the internet and social media to censor Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) public interaction and election campaign. Source On December 17, 2023: NetBlocks, an internet tracking agency on ‘X’, formerly Twitter said, “Metrics show major social media platforms were restricted in #Pakistan for ~7 hours on Sunday evening during an online political gathering; the incident is consistent with previous instances of internet censorship targeting opposition leader Imran Khan and his party PTI." Source "Confirmed: Live metrics show a nation-scale disruption to social media platforms across #Pakistan, including X/Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube; the incident comes just ahead of a major virtual gathering organized by persecuted opposition leader Imran Khan's party, PTI." Source Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) has been dismantled by the Pakistani authorities after the May 9, 2023 attacks on military installations. For details, go to Annual Report 2023 ASSAULTS | ARRESTS | HARASSMENT section and check May 9, 2023, and onwards.
- January 19, 2024: Pakistan State-Owned TV, Pakistan Television (PTV) abruptly suspended the live streaming of a Cricket match between Pakistan and New Zealand after the camera captured a fan holding a placard with a picture of the former Prime Minister and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader, Imran Khan. NewsDesk. Mr. Khan is in jail and Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) has been dismantled by the Pakistani authorities after the May 9, 2023 attacks on military installations. For details, go to our Annual Report 2023 ASSAULTS | ARRESTS | HARASSMENT section and check May 9, 2023, and onwards.
PLIGHT OF MEDIA AND WORKERS
- February 4, 2024: Daily The Nation has not paid wages to its staff for the last three months. The journalists are on strike, and the newspaper printing the news of the other news agencies using byline staff reporters. The newspaper owed 22 months of wages in all. Source
- February 2, 2024: Pakistan's former journalist and media minister, who bitterly criticized opponents before his induction into the Federal Cabinet as a Federal Caretaker Minister for Information, Broadcasting, and Parliamentary Affairs, allotted himself a plot in Islamabad. Source: According to Journalist Waqar Abbasi, “the allotment violated the seniority list.”
- January 23, 2024: The National Press Club (NPC) penned a letter to the Islamabad police on Monday requesting the removal of a Baloch rights camp in the federal capital near the club’s premises. Baloch protesters are currently demonstrating in a sit-in organized in front of the NPC by the Baloch Yakjehti Committee (BYC) against enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings. The BYC camp has been established since December 22 and continues to attract more participants despite harsh weather and pressure from law enforcement agencies. Organizers of the Islamabad sit-in have accused the police of harassing their supporters and profiling them as well as registering first information reports against them. Unedited. Source and Full Story
2016 - 2024 http://www.freedomtalk.net/ All rights reserved