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.
- September 2020, unidentified killers shot dead journalist Abid Hussain Abidi, working for the newspaper Jurm-o- Saza, in Mandi Bahauddin, the province of Punjab. Reportedly, his murder is related to one of his news stories. Local police registered a case against unidentified killers.
- September 2020, Baloch Journalist, activist, writer, and anchor, Shaheena Shaheen, was brutally murdered in Turbat, Part of the politically unstable province of Balochistan. She was the host of the State-owned Pakistan Television (PTV) morning show in Turbat, Balochistan, and the editor of Balochi language magazine Dazgohar. The police have termed this murder as an act of “domestic violence.”
- July 2020, unidentified shooters killed reporter Anwar Jan Khetran, working for the daily Naweed-e-Pakistan in Barkhan, part of the politically unstable province of Balochistan. The prime suspect is the powerful provincial Minister for Food and Population Welfare Sardar Abdul Rehman Khan Khetran and his guards, hence the law enforcement agencies are hesitant to take befitting action. The motive of the murder not determined.
- 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
- October 2020, Ali Imran Syed, a reporter working for the privately-owned Geo News, returned home several hours after reported missing in Karachi. Mr. Syed called his wife and informed her that he is now at his mother’s house and physically stable. Mr. Syed's family had filed a police report. The journalist had contributed a story with CCTV footage of the arrest of the opposition leader belonging to Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) retired Capt Mohammad Safdar, from a Karachi hotel. Pakistani authorities have turned hostile against critical media as many journalists and social media activists, including newspaper Jang and Geo TV channel Editor-in-Chief Mir Shakil-ur-Rehman facing charges or behind bars. Pakistan Federation Union of Journalists (PFUJ) has termed the current state of censorship in Pakistan unprecedented and unseen even during military rule. The Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) calls assaults on Freedom of Expression as "draconian" and formed a journalist's defense committee to provide free legal aid to journalists booked under cybercrime laws.
- September 2020, the Managing Editor of bilingual digital media initiative, NayaDaur Media, Ailia Zehra, filed a complaint with the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) over recurring rape threats on Facebook. Ms. Zehra is one of the signatories of #AttacksWontSilence, a joint campaign of the Pakistani mainstream women journalists against online threats and trolls committed by the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), its affiliates, and activists.
- September 2020, authorities booked journalist Asad Ali Toor under the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act (PECA) for criticizing the military and state intuitions.
- September 2020, Karachi police released journalist Bilal Farooqi, working for the English-language daily The Express Tribune, after several hours of detention. A citizen has alleged Mr. Farooqi's social media posts are defaming Pakistan Army and causing sectarianism. Mr. Farooqi booked under Sections 500 and 505 of the Pakistan Penal Code and Sections 11 and 20 of the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act (Peca), 2016. The Karachi Union of Journalists (KUJ) condemned the arrest of Mr. Farooqi.
- September 2020, Jehlum (the province of Punjab) police booked journalist and former Chairman of the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) Absar Alam for sedition. The charges ranging from Section 131, 124A, 505, 499 of Pakistan Penal Code, section 20 of Pakistan Electronic Crimes Act, and High Treason under Section (Article) 6 of the Constitution.” The plaintiff Chaudhary Naveed Ahmed alleged that Mr. Alam used derogatory language against Prime Minister Imran Khan and the military.
- September 2020, Pakistani authorities added new terrorism charges against 66-year-old human rights activist and a retired university professor Mohammad Ismail, his wife Uzlifat Ismail, and daughter Gulalai Ismail. The court had already acquitted the persecuted family two years ago. The retrial alleged the donations for Ms. Gulalai Ismail charity Aware Girls, spent on the cars used in the deadly suicide attacks in 2013 and 2015. The whole family denied the allegations and maintained that the cases are apparent attempts to pressurize Ms. Gulalai Ismail from raising her voice against State’s highhandedness aimed at Pashtuns. Ms. Gulalai Ismail services have been recognized internationally and she has received many awards including, the Democracy Award from the National Endowment for Democracy, International Humanist of the Year Award by the International Humanist and Ethical Union, and the joint winner, with murdered journalist and activist Gauri Lankesh, of the Anna Politkovskaya Award. In 2016, her organization Aware Girls was awarded the Fondation Chirac Peace Prize for the Prevention of Conflict.She has now self-exiled to the United States. Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM) claims the representation for the rights of those affected by the war against militancy and what PTM believes oppressions of the armed forces in the tribal areas.
- September 2020, authorities arrested the owner of a privately-owned TV channel 24NewsHD, Mohsin Naqvi, on the allegations of "airing hate inciting content." Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) also suspended 24NewsHD for 15 days. It all happened after Ashura, a Muslim month when both Shia and Sunnis exchange heated arguments over the sanctity of the holy personalities of Islam, which, on many occasions, had claimed innocent lives.
- September 2020, authorities arrested Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM), activist and Member of the National Assembly (MNA) at the Quetta airport, and banned him from entering the province of Balochistan. Mr. Dawar represents the volatile region of North Waziristan and subjected to recurring arrests and bans on travel within and outside Pakistan.
- August 2020, journalist Ahmad Noorani faced threats and fierce backlash from the government-leaning segments over his article about retired Lieutenant General Asim Saleem Bajwa, now serving as the Special Assistant to the Prime Minister Imran Khan on Information and Broadcasting, for not disclosing overseas wealth. A Privately-owned news channel instigated violence and declared the journalist as a traitor for doing his job.
- August 2020, unidentified attackers attacked and injured journalist Abbas Ali Jutt, working for the daily Sahafat and general secretary of Okara Union of Journalist, the province of Punjab. Mr. Jutt claimed the attack was the repercussion of his social media posts against drug dealing in his area. He filed a police report, but no arrests were made.
- August 2020, police arrested Sheeraz Jeelani, bureau chief of Dharti TV, alleging the possession of liquor in his car, in Khairpur, the province of Sindh. Mr. Jeelani was active on social media against police wrongdoings.
- July 2020, the followers of a religious cleric Allama Zubair Ahmed Zaheer, brutally attacked and injured privately-owned TV channel SAMA News female reporter Sidra Ghayas, her brother and two of her co-workers over a traffic matter. Ms. Ghayas spent a whole night in a hospital for her injuries. Under extreme pressure from the religious groups, Ms. Ghayas had to withdraw her police report.
- July 2020, police attacked ARY News host Iqrar Ul Hassan Syed within a police station in Hyderabad. Mr. Syed has gone to the police station for the live-coverage of the police wrongdoings for his TV program Sar-e-Aam. Later, the journalist forgave the attackers and retracted assault charges. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eL_D8LZCbTU
- July 2020, the law enforced agencies armed with assault rifles raided Karachi Press Club (KPC) and made some photos. The LEAs, provincial, and the Federal government did not reason the raid. Plainclothes armed men had raided the Karachi Press Club in November 2018 too. They stormed KPC at night and harassed the journalists. The armed men searched the press club and made cell phone videos, but did not disclose the reason for their incursion.
- July 2020, unidentified armed kidnappers kidnapped senior journalist Matiullah Jan in the heavily guarded capital city of Islamabad and dropped him off after 12 hours. The journalist explained his ordeal https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wyUnBS5rRws . The Supreme Court of Pakistan noticed the kidnapping of Mr. Matiullah and summoned the authorities.
- ·July 2020, an angry mob physically assaulted the General Secretary of Badin Press Club, Shoukat Memon and cameraman Bagh Ali Junejo in Badin, a city in the province of Sindh. The media men were covering a violent occurrence between local bank employees and account holders. No immediate arrests were reported.
- July 2020, the Supreme Court of Pakistan summons journalist Mati-Ullah Jan over his Tweet about rifts and infighting in the judiciary. Pakistani authorities and politicians have been using the judiciary to intimidate political opponents and controlling media. The government has filed references against Qazi Faez Isa, a justice of the Supreme Court of Pakistan for refusing to read out the government-approved verdicts.
- July 2020, journalist Salman Masood, the New York Times correspondent in Pakistan and editor, The Nation, used his verified Twitter account to inform an intrusion at his house. He wrote, “a personal update — An unknown person intruded into my house around 2 a.m. Friday night. He managed to disable one internal CCTV camera. He wore a hands-free in one ear and held the phone in a way that seemed he was in contact with someone else. After spending some time downstairs, he came upstairs but was spotted by a family member, who alerted the whole house. However, the intruder managed to escape. I have filed a complaint with Islamabad Police. Hopefully, the culprits will be caught. (2/2).”
- July 2020, journalist Ahsan Zia, former president of the Punjab Union of Journalists and now working for privately-owned Koh-e-Noor TV, claimed that unidentified men following him and threatening his life using SMS messages. The journalist has filed a police report against unidentified men. The motive of threats not determined.
- 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 had also 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.
- October 2020, privately-owned TV channel BOL News reported the disappearance and filed the police report for Nabeel Jakhura, President of BOL News, and Assistant Vice President Shabi Al Hassan from Gulshan-e-Iqbal Karachi. The missing individuals returned home after two days. However, the channel or the individuals did not provide any details of the incidents.
- September 2020, rejecting the calls for an independent commission, Pakistan extends the Commission of Inquiry on Enforced Disappearances (COIED) for three years. The COIED has failed to achieve its goals, and the enforced disappearances continue unabated in Pakistan.
- September 2020, unidentified persons kidnapped Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) Joint Director and former daily DAWN reporter Sajid Gondal, in the capital city of Islamabad. Authorities missed the deadline set by Islamabad High Court (IHC) to produce Mr. Gondal in the court. The court was proceeding upon habeas corpus petition filed by Mr. Gondal's family. Mr. Gondal returned home after five days and insinuated, “Gone to Northern areas,” an apparent and ensuing excuse warranting his future safety. According to the widely circulated reports on social media, Mr. Gondal collaborated with journalist Ahmad Noorani allegations about the offshore companies of Lt Gen (retd) Asim Saleem Bajwa and family established 99 companies in four countries and worth an estimated $39.9 million. Currently, Mr. Bajwa is serving as prime minister Imran Khan's Special Assistant on Information (SAPM) and also chairman of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) Authority.
- September 2020, family and friends of Muhib Azad Laghari reported him missing. Mr. Azad is an activist and lawyer belonging to the nationalist group Sindh Sujagi Forum. MR. Laghari returned home after almost two-month; seemingly, traumatized and ltormented.
- August 2020, unidentified kidnappers kidnapped three men, Muzmil Agha, Kashif Hussain, and Iftikhar Hussain in Parachinar, the capital city of Kurram District in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The kidnappers severely tortured Muzmil Agha and flung him in a deserted area. Later, Kashif Hussain and Iftikhar Hussain were also released.. The family and friends alleged the law enforcement agencies for the kidnapping and torture. All three men belong to the minority Shia community.
- August 2020, unidentified kidnappers kidnapped two Sindhi teenagers, Ghulam Rasool Shar and Bashir Shar in Karachi. Both the brothers were instrumental against the enforced disappearances of the Sindhi nationalists. Family and friends alleged the law enforcement agencies for their kidnappings.
- August 2020, uniformed and plainclothes attackers ransacked the house and kidnapped anti enforced disappearances activist Sarang Joyo in Karachi. According to his wife, the attackers seized laptops, phones, computers, and books. Mr. Joyo was released a few days later with tortured marks on his body. Protesting his son’s kidnapping, Mr. Taj Joyo, father of Sarang Joyo, denied the Pride of Performance Award on Pakistan’s Independence Day. Mr. Taj Joyo is a Sindhi language writer and poet.
- July 2020, friends and family claimed that the law enforcement agencies abducted student Mohammad Amin, an activist of the Progressive Youth Alliance (PYA) from Karachi and Awami Workers Party (AWP)’s activist Shafqat Malik from Ghotki, the province of Sindh. Both abductees were advocating for education and human rights. Authorities exercise unchecked powers to arbitrarily kidnap rights activists to silence freedom of speech & freedom of expression.
- 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
- October 2020, a 44-year-old man kidnapped a 13-year-old minority Christian girl Ar*** Raja, and forced her into marriage in Karachi. Police case had registered after public backlash and protest in front of the Karachi Press Club. 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.
- October 2020, Lahore police arrested three men belonging to the persecuted Muslim minority Ahmadiyya community after a court denied them bail. The defendants Tahir Nakkash, Akbar Ali, and Sharafat Ahmad were booked for using Islamic religious symbols in an Ahmadiyya mosque. The Ahmadis are subjected to the prolonged persecution in Pakistan. A former Prime Minister of Pakistan, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, had 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.
- September 2020, authorities in the Sindh province booked Muslim-minority Shia activist and a campaigner for the release of the Shia missing persons, Syed Rashid Rizvi, under terrorism charges. While Mr. Rizvi was in jail, the local police still raided his house at least twice.
- From Muslim Shias and Ahmadiyya (Ahmadis) to Non-Muslims Hindus and Christians, hate speech against minorities openly disseminated on Pakistani media, and it is protected by the silent consent of the incumbents. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EGHge7AjJYM
- September 2020, Senate Standing Committee on Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony rejected "the Protection of Rights of Minorities Bill, 2020," against kidnapping, forced conversion, and forced marriages of the minority girls. Most of the girls are under-aged and belong to the Hindu community. The Sindh province is the hotbed of such conversions, which continued under the supervision of the politically connected landlords.
- September 2020, police in Charsadda (the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa – KP) arrested a man over blasphemy allegations. A few years ago, unknown killers had murdered the suspect’s brother over blasphemy accusations.
- September 2020, a Pakistani court in Lahore sentenced a Christian man Asif Pervaiz, imprisoned since 2013, to death over a misconstrued blasphemous text message. Mr. Pervaiz has repeatedly denied charges and said he “unintentionally forwarded the message.”
- September 2020, authorities arbitrarily booked dozens of minority Shia Muslims as young as a 3-year-old boy for following religious rituals and under blasphemy laws while extremists used graffiti denouncing them as non-Muslims using the hashtag #Shiakafir. It all happened after Ashura, a Muslim month when both Shia and Sunnis exchange heated arguments over the sanctity of the holy personalities of Islam, which, on many occasions, had claimed innocent lives. The police forced a Shia youth to denounce his faith and endorse the Muslim majority sect of the country in Mansehra, the province of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK).
- August 2020, a 30-year-old and father of four children Muslim man, Saeed Amanat, kidnapped 15-year-old Christian girl, Saneha Kinza Iqbal, in Faisalabad, the province of Punjab. The family of the girl fearing the forced conversion and forced marriage to the kidnapper. Police registered a case after a month's delay.
- August 2020, a property builder demolished a Hindu temple built before the creation of Pakistan. Many Hindu families live in the vicinity. The builder took advantage of COVID-19 social-distancing restrictions and covertly razed the temple in Layari, Karachi.
- August 2020, Pirmahal police (Province of Punjab) registered a case against a man and his sons for animals sacrifice on Eid-ul-Adha. Slaughtering animals on Eid-ul-Adha is the mandatory ritual in Islam. The accused belong to the persecuted minority Muslim Ahmadiyya, also known as Qadianis. The fundamentalist majority of the Sunnis Muslims consider Ahmadis as infidels.
- August 2020, ignoring their heartfelt apologies, Lahore police surrendered to the demands of extremists and booked actress Saba Qamar and Singer Bilal Saeed for Blasphemy charges under Section 295 of PPC over what authorities believed as "violating sanctity" of the historic Wazir Khan Mosque. The duo recorded a music video after the provincial government Auqaf Department granted the permission after charging a fee of Rs30,000. The duo now faces threats and trolling from fundamentalist clerics and religious vigilantes.
- August 2020, in an apparent hate crime, unidentified shooters killed 61-year-old Meraj Ahmed, a minority Muslim Ahmadi man in Peshawar. Mr. Ahmed had filed a report with the federal police about receiving threats and online hate campaign targeting his family.
- August 2020, police arrested a man Raza Haider and booked him for blasphemy over a social media post in Toba Tek Singh, the province of Punjab.
- July 2020, a man killed blasphemy suspect Tahir Ahmad in the courtroom in front of the judge. The victim, Mr. Ahmad, was a mentally challenged person. The killer told the police that “Prophet Muhammad instructed the killing in his dream.” The unfortunate occurrence took place in Peshawar.
- July 2020, Chaudhry Tahir Nasrullah Warraich, president of the Lahore High Court Bar Association, sent a letter to the provincial Minister of Interior and police stations in Punjab asking a ban on minority Muslim Ahmadiyya, also known as Qadianis for animals sacrifice on Eid-ul-Adha. Slaughtering animals on Eid-ul-Adha is the mandatory ritual in Islam.
- July 2020, extremists continue to intimidate and desecrate graves belonging to the Muslim-minority Ahmadiyya community in Sheikhupura and Gujranwala, in the province of Punjab.
- July 2020, after surrendering to the demands of the majority extremist groups, Pakistan deferred the construction for a Hindu Temple in the capital city of Islamabad.
- July 2020, the majority religious group kidnapped 14-year-old minority Hindu girl Nasiban in the province of Sindh. In a widely circulated and disturbing footage, the little sister of the kidnapped girl crying and imploring to bring her sister back.
- July 2020, a group of religious extremists desecrated Muslim-minority Ahmadiyya cemetery in District Sheikhupura, the province of Punjab.
- June 2020, authorities arrest Professor Sajid Somro, a teacher at the Shah Abdul Latif University, and charge him under blasphemy law over a social media post. Mr. Somro is also a writer and poet. Mr. Somro was later released him on bail.
- June 2020, armed neighbors shot and injured Christian man Nadeem Joseph and his mother-in-law over moving into a Muslim neighborhood. Nadeem Joseph succumbed to his injuries in July. The police report did not mention his murder a hate crime but, Shaheen Joseph, the widow of late Mr. Joseph, maintained in a video message that her husband's murder is a hate crime motivated by the religious hate. 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.
- 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. In August 2020, the Lahore High Court (LHC) also endorsed the decision.
- 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, had 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
- October 2020, Pakistan banned TikTok, a video-sharing social networking service, just days after opposition Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) worker and Tiktok star Saud Butt, mocked the government. The government termed TikTok as “objectionable” and “inappropriate.” Many Pakistanis were using the app to earn money and raise their voices against social injustices in society. TikTok has been restored after ten days.
- October 2020, Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) banned airing the speeches, interviews, and opinions of absconders, and the proclaimed offenders hours after opposition leader and the former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif sharply criticized the government, from London, U.K. The Supreme Court of Pakistan, Human Rights, and civil society activists have termed the opposition leaders indictments as politically motivated and under coercion by the incumbents. In January 2019, A report by the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) disclosed the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) is operating at least 18 secret accounts in Pakistan.
- October 2020, following the verdict of the Lahore Anti-Terrorism Court, The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) banned all TV channels from airing the news about the Sialkot motorway gang-rape incident.
- September 2020, TikTok, a video-sharing social networking service, blocked 93,000 Pakistan-based accounts after the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) deemed them as vulgar.
- September 2020, authorities seized the copies of the book ye company nahi chale gee (this company won’t run) written by a senior journalist, Suhail Warraich. The cover of the book ridiculed the collusion between Prime Minister Imran Khan and the military that resulted in the PM Khan's victory in the 2018 elections. The book's cover contains the pictures of Prime Minister Imran Khan, General Qamar Javed Bajwa, Chief of Army Staff of the Pakistan Army, and the opposition’s leaders. Mr. Warraich is the senior editor of the Daily Jang Newspaper and senior executive producer of Geo TV. The book is the collections of Mr. Warraich's articles written for the Daily Jang Newspaper and The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) Urdu language website.
- September 2020, the provincial government of Balochistan warned all the employees working for the government to shut down their website, pages, and WhatsApp groups or face "strict disciplinary action." The government alleged the dissemination of misinformation, propaganda, and hate using such platforms. The government is widely criticized for failing to deliver and maintain law and order situation in the province. Several government servants have turned whistle-blower against the wrongdoings by their Ministries, superiors, and departments.
- September 2020, the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) retells online video-sharing platforms YouTube to censor what PTA believes are vulgar, indecent, immoral, nude, and hate speech content for Pakistani viewers. According to PTA, such contents have "extremely negative effects," and can foster repugnant discord. The PTA demanded the same during August 2020.
- September 2020, the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) censored the rerun of ARY Digital's play Ishqiya and HUM TV's Pyar Ke Sadqay. According to PEMRA, the banned drama serials are against the social and religious values of Pakistan.
- September 2020, the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA) banned dating apps Tinder, Grindr, Tagged, Skout and SayHi. The PTA alleged the apps are promoting “immoral content.”
- August 2020, the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) asked online video-sharing platforms YouTube to censor what PTA believes are vulgar, indecent, immoral, nude, and hate speech content for Pakistani viewers. According to PTA, such contents have "extremely negative effects," and can foster repugnant discord.
- August 2020, authorities in the capital city of Islamabad revoked the publication rights of the daily FIR. The administration did not reason the ban on the newspaper.
- August 2020, the province of Punjab banned female artists from shooting of movies, shows and commercial in the mosques and shrines across the province.
- August 2020, the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra), fined privately-owned channel Neo News, for airing misogynistic opinions of writer-director, Khalil-ur-Rehman Qamar.
- August 2020, a Taliban-inspired group Pasban, made up of local politicians and business owners, bans women from going to the local markets in Hangu, a remote town in the province of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP).
- August 2020, video-sharing service TikTok reported Pakistan as one of the five markets in terms of video removals. Pakistan had warned Tik Tok with censorship if the company fail to comply with the government's guidelines.
- August 2020, the provincial Punjab government suspended the manager of the historic Masjid Wazir Khan over recording a song inside the mosque. Under extreme pressure from the religious extremists, celebrities Saba Qamar and Bilal Saeed also tendered an apology.
- July 2020, Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) issued a stern warning to the cable operators to enforce fierce censorship and threatened to revoke the operating licenses.
- July 2020, the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) censored live streaming platform, Bigo and online game PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds (PUBG). PTA also issued a final warning to video-sharing social networking service Tik Tok. The PTA believes that Bigo and Tik Tok are spreading obscenity and vulgarity. The PTA lifted the 9-days ban from PUBG and Bigo after the companies accepted the content-filtering demands of PTA.
- July 2020, the Pakistan Electronic Media Authority Regulatory Authority (Pemra) revoked privately-owned television channel 24NewsHD license for what PEMRA believe "illegal transmission of news and current affairs content though the channel was licensed for the entertaining contents." The regulatory body had sent a notice to the channel in May 2020, but the channel claimed, "24NewsHD failed to comply." Journalistic organizations, press clubs, and press freedom advocates believe the termination of the license is punitive as the channel was airing reports of the incumbent's failure. Later, the Lahore High Court (LHC) restored the license.
- 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
- October 2020, Shiraz Abbasi, an office-bearer of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), assaulted reporter Sanjay Sadhwani, working for privately-owned channel SAMAA. Mr. Sadhwani was covering the women leaving Karachi Jalsa (large gathering) of the newly formed Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), while Mr. Abbasi wanted to show only the arrivals. PDM aims to oust the Prime Minister, Imran Khan. The assault was caught on camera https://twitter.com/i/status/1317922897470554112
- October 2020, authorities booked opposition leader and the former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Azad Jammu and Kashmir Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haider, Nawaz Sharif's daughter Maryam Nawaz, and other key leaders of the Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) after Mr. Nawaz Shrif bitterly criticized the government. The plaintiff, a citizen, Badar Rasheed, registered a case for cyberterrorism, criminal conspiracy, conspiracy to wage war against Pakistan, condemning the creation of the country, and advocating the abolishment of its sovereignty, sedition, and promoting enmity between different groups. The top legal experts of the country refuted the charges and said that only the state has the authority to register a case for using such charges. After a few days, police dropped sedition charges against all the leaders, excluding Mr. Nawaz Sharif. Plaintiff Badar Rasheed belongs to the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), and according to police records, has a criminal background.
- September 2020, Amjad Ali Khan, a parliamentarian and the chairman of parliament’s standing committee on defense, tabled a private member bill to criminalize criticism, and according to Mr. Khan, defamation aimed at the military or any of its members. The proposed legislation carries up to two years of jail time and a fine of up to 500,000 rupees. Mr. Khan is an affiliate of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).
- September 2020, Senator Mushtaq Ahmad Khan humiliated Muslim minority Ahmadis (Ahmadiyya) by calling them "traitors of Pakistan" and "mercenaries, hired by the United States. The Senator is the president of his religion-based party, Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), for the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhawa (KP).
- August 2020, Federal Minister for Water Resources, Faisal Vawda, used his verified Twitter account and launched renewed diatribes against journalists Mubashir Zaidi, Asad Ali Toor, Cyril Almedia and Benazir Shah. Minister Vawda belongs to the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and infamous for bullying media and journalists.
- August 2020, Pakistani women journalists Mehmal Sarfraz, Benazir Shah, Asma Shirazi, Reema Omer, and Munizae Jahangir signed a letter of condemnation against ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and cronies for targeting and humiliating the women journalists for defying the draconian censorship on press freedom.
- July 2020, the provincial government of the Punjab province passed Tahaffuz-e-Bunyad-e-Islam Bill, empowering more unchecked powers to the law enforcement authorities to visit the publishers, review the manuscripts, and provide copies of the imported books to the designated officials. The officials granted powers to arbitrary banned the books they believe Unislamic. Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) governs the Punjab province.
- July 2020, the provincial government of the Punjab province banned 100 textbooks over allegation of "blasphemous contents." Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) governs the Punjab province. After a fierce backlash, the provincial government of Punjab suspended Punjab Textbook and Curriculum Board Managing Director Rai Manzoor Hussain, but the ban on the books remained intact.
- July 2020, the Supreme Court of Pakistan (SC) ruled that the anti-graft court of Pakistan, known as the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), is targeting political opponents and committing one-sided accountability while the court (NAB) is reluctant to investigate the government’s allies.
- July 2020, Qamar Riaz Sulehry, ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) President of Tehsil Zafarwal, filed a blasphemy case against opposition Member of the National Assembly of Pakistan (MNA), Khawaja Muhammad Asif. Mr. Asif belongs to Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) and also a former Minister of Foreign Affairs. The blasphemy case has been filed after Mr. Asif’s statement, “all religions are equal, and no religion is superior to others.”
July 2020, Federal Minister for Water Resources, Faisal Vawda, used his verified Twitter account to bully and threaten journalist Fakhar Durrani, working with The News. The Minister then continued his threats aimed at Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman, the Editor-in-Chief of Jang Group (The News is part of the same media house) by saying that he has enough evidence to send Mir Shakeel back to prison if he is freed. Minister Vawda, dodging the questions about his dual citizenship (according to the constitution, a dual citizen cannot for the parliament) and overseas properties. Minister Vawda belongs to the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and enjoys impunity. Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman is already in jail in a politically-motivated case. Since the government has failed to find any wrongdoing against him to present in the court, the incumbents are using delaying tactics to keep him in jail. Recently, his jail custody has been extended because the judge was on leave.
- July 2020, Federal Minister for Water Resources, Faisal Vawda, used his verified Twitter account to bully and threaten journalist senior investigative journalist Umar Cheema, working with The News. The Minister used scornful and derogatory language and threatened the journalist with the same physical assaults committed against him by the police and unidentified attackers. The Minister turn hostile towards the journalists over questions of his dual nationality and overseas properties he allegedly concealed in election declaration forms. Minister Vawda belongs to the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).
- 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
- October 2020, the religious extremists and vigilantes forced the Institute of Business Administration (IBA) Karachi campus to call off an online seminar due to the participation of the internationally-famed economist Dr. Atif Mian. Dr. Atif Mian belongs to one of the most persecuted Muslim minorities Ahmadiyya (Ahmadi) community of Pakistan, whereas the Muslim majority deny accepting them as Muslims. In September 2018, Pakistan expelled economist Dr. Atif Mian, from the Prime Minister Imran Khan-led Economic Advisory Council (EAC) after objections from the religious groups. The Ahmadis are subjected to the prolonged persecution in Pakistan. A former Prime Minister of Pakistan, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, had 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.
- September 2020, the Institute of Business Administration (IBA) Karachi campus warned the students to follow attendance rules even if they are contracted to the novel Corona Virus.
- 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.
- October 2020, Pakistan fired hundreds of employees from the state-owned Pakistan Television (PTV) and Radio Pakistan.
- September 2020, after a morning-show host, Nida Yasir's insensitive interview with the parents of a minor rape and kidnapping victim, people and ethics advocates stressed upon the media training dealing with the sensitive issues as rape and maintain the dignity of the victims and their families. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d5jIoabFrRU
- September 2020, the Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) announced pro bono representation of the political workers and journalists facing sedition and other arbitrary charges.
- September 2020, Faisalabad police used batons and thrashed the daily-wages laborers protesting unemployment-related poverty. Ibrahim Fiber fired at least 3,800 workers during covid19 without notice and unpaid dues.
- September 2020, Karachi police booked at least 35 protesters protesting the failure of the Cantonment Board Clifton (CBC), for over-flooded neighborhoods and power cuts after rains.
- September 2020, Veerta Ali Ujan, the daughter of the noted poet Fahmida Riaz, announced on her social media accounts of her refusal to accept the presidential award on behalf of her deceased mother. Ms. Ujan explained her decision on Facebook and Twitter accounts, "Awards section contacting me about ammi's award investiture ceremony. . . .how can I accept an award for her work at this time? It would be an insult to her whole life's struggle for justice and equality. Writers and journalists are being kidnapped, tortured, even murdered. Harassers being awarded. Karachi left to rot in sewage. So. No thank you. I am refusing the presidential award for my mother's work. I'm sure she would have refused it if she was alive today."
- September 2020, the National Assembly’s (NA) Standing Committee on Information and Broadcasting formed a body to deal with the problems of the journalists. The six-member committee comprised of the members from the Senate and the National Assembly.
- August 2020, journalists walked out from the National Assembly (NA) press section and protested over delayed wages. Massive job losses, non-payment of salaries, and the government punitive actions against press freedom have devastated Pakistani media. At least two journalists have died due to the financial crisis.
- August 2020, members of civil society, educationists, publishers, human rights activists, and intellectuals started a petition against Tahaffuz-i-Bunyad-i-Islam. The provincial Punjab Assembly Bill attacks religious freedom of minorities and segregates them from politics.
- July 2020, privately-owned Hum News laid off 40 employees from the newsroom.
- July 2020, Pakistani privately-owned, Baloch language TV channel WASH shut down due to a shortage of budgets. The management or the government has not offered any severance compensation to hundreds of media crews and journalists.
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