ATTACKS ON FREEDOM OF SPEECH & FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION IN PAKISTAN - 2019


  • At least 41 occurrences ofassaults, Arrests, and harassments related to Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Expression and Minorities compared to 58 incidents in the corresponding period of last year. 


  • At least 29 occurrences Enforced Disappearances and Missing persons while many cases were not reported in Pakistan compared to 25 incidents in the corresponding period of last year.


  • At least 26 occurrences of Blasphemy or targeting Muslim and non-Muslim minorities while many cases were not reported in Pakistan.


  • At least 64 occurrences of Censorship, and Fines to suppress Press Freedom, Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Expression in Pakistan compared to 70 incidents in the corresponding period of last year.


  • At least 17 attacks committed by the two large political parties, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) against Press Freedom, Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Expression, and Religious Freedom in Pakistan compared to 30 occurrences in the corresponding period of last year. The ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) remained the top attacker likewise the previous year.


  • ​At least 15 on-campus occurrences against Press Freedom, Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Expression and Religious Freedom in Pakistan compared to 17 incidents in the corresponding period of last year.


OVERVIEW 2019    

KILLINGS


Four journalists and a vlogger killed during 2019. A man named Dilawar Ali, killed his 27-year-old wife, Urooj Iqbal, for not quitting her job in Lahore, Punjab. The victim was a crime reporter for a local Urdu-language newspaper. The motives of three murdered journalists, 92News channel reporter Mirza Waseem Baig, newspaper Daily Azadi journalist Jamil Ahmed, and Malik Amanullah Khan, a reporter working for an online newspaper, Meezan-e-Adl remained undetermined while the father of social media activist and vlogger Muhammad Bilal Khan suspected that, “his son’s killing may be the result of arbitrary blasphemy as he had recently criticized the holy personalities of Islam."


Freedom of speech and Press Freedom trampled under dogfight among political stakeholders, judiciary, establishment, and law enforcement agencies (LEAs). The widely believed notion that the powerful army has installed the ruling Prime Minister, Imran Khan, kept the nation enormously divided. However, non-partisan and once the government leaning journalists now seem to agree. The government used censorship indiscriminately to strangulate the voices demanding freedom of speech real democracy. 


Pakistani media struggled against draconian censorship and fake news in 2019. The state-owned Pakistan Television (PTV) turned into an advertising agency promoting incumbents. The majority of the opposition leaders were thrown in jail, and the media houses were forced to follow extreme censorship to exist.


Pakistani authorities widely and arbitrarily used treason, cybercrime, antiterrorism laws, and the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to silence political opponents, dissents, free speech, and students protesting for their lawful demands. 

Refuting the democratic values, the federal cabinet resisted the Supreme Court of Pakistan and amended the Army Regulations (Rules) to include a provision for "an extension in tenure" of the Army Chief, General Qamar Javed Bajwa. In October 2019, Prime Minister Imran Khan declined to talk to the opposition leaders who were protesting in the capital, Islamabad, by saying that the “Army stands behind him.” The Federal Minister for Climate Change, Zartaj Gul, also admitted in a live show that "Pakistan’s military speaks for, and on behalf of the government." 

In April 2019, Pakistani military ordered TV channels to air only the military approved defense analysts; In October 2019, Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) bans television anchors from expressing their opinions in TV shows citing orders of the Islamabad High Court (IHC). Later, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) served Pakistan Electronic Media Regu­latory Authority (Pemra) chairman, Saleem Baig, with a contempt of court notice for overusing the court’s name. Authorities forced several TV anchors, including Saleem Safi, Nadeem Malik, Hamid Mir, Rauf Klasra, and Amir Mateen to abruptly suspend their on-air shows over questioning the performance of the government or interviewing the opposition leaders.


Facebook ranked Pakistan as the top country of censorship in the world with 2,203 requests of contents deletions - an upsurge of 700 percent compared to the last corresponding year. Pakistan contracted a Canadian based firm Sandvine to monitor, analyze, and filter what authorities believed is unwanted material on the internet.


During October 2019, Justice Qazi Faez Isa, who stresses upon a real democracy in his rulings, revealed that the government hired UK-based Company “Find UK People” to spy on him and his family for a decade. In Karachi, authorities attacked and destroyed the installations honoring 444 victims “Killing Fields of Karachi,” killed by a former cop Rao Anwar in fake police encounters. Pakistan barred Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) Asia Program Coordinator, Steven Butler, from attending Asma Jahangir Conference for Human Rights in Pakistan. According to Pakistan authorities, “Mr. Butler's name appears in the Ministry of Interior’s blacklist.”​

In the middle of the Pakistani media crisis that extremely dangerous and depressingly underfunded, some journalists and whistleblowers fight for the deprived people while risking their lives and raising kids. As many as 2200 journalists pushed out of the jobs since 2018.


Pro–ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) activists targeted journalists, online critiques, human rights advocates, and political opponents. A malicious social media campaign started by @IKWariors (Prime Minister Imran Khan) supporters asking the arrests of the journalists and people critical to the policies of the Prime Minister Imran Khan. Their hashtag #ArrestAntiPakjournalists became the second most trended within hours. 


ASSAULTS | ARRESTS | HARASSMENTS


December 2019, a judge sentences journalist Nasrullah Chaudhry to five years imprisonment under Anti-Terrorism Act for allegedly possessing hate literature, in Karachi. Mr. Chaudhry was arrested in November 2018 and working for Urdu-language daily Nai Baat. Police also arrested Ajeeb Lakho, a reporter working for the Urdu-language newspaper, Jurat, in Sukkur, the province of Sindh. Mr. Lakho had recently published an article on alleged links between police and the oil smugglers in the area. In September, under enormous pressure and intimidations by the government, daily The Nation fired cartoonist Khalid Hussain, over Prime Minister Imran Khan Caricature.


In December, the charged mob surrounded the English language daily newspaper DAWN in Islamabad and later campaigned to hang the staffers and boycott the newspaper. The protesters were demanding the retraction of a news item linking London bridge attacker to Pakistan. In November, Karachi police registered a treason and terrorism case against Jeay Sindh Qaumi Mahaz (JSQM) leadership and 2,000-2,500 un-named activists. JSQM largely represent rural people of the Sindh province, and the party activists were trying to reach Karachi Press Club (KPC), to mark ‘Paigham-i-Sindh,’ (message of Sindh). The succeeding governments had been alleging JSQM as a separatist movement; authorities and local incumbents implicate and threatened journalist Asif Jamali, working for KTN News and Sindhi language newspaper Daily Koshish, with death threats over his reporting on a minor’s sexual abuse in Dadu, a remote part of province Sindh. In October, the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), arrested Professor Muhammad Ismail, alleging him for disseminating hate against the country on social media. Mr. Ismail is the father of the Pashtun rights and the Pashtoon Tahaffuz Movement (PTM) activist, Gulalai Ismail, who has been living in the United States after being subjected to arbitrary and repeated arrests and harassment. In August, police arrested Ahmed Muneeb, publisher and editor of the Urdu-language daily Piyara Watan, on allegations of extortion in Karachi. According to Mr. Muneeb’s family, “he was writing on corruption, and the police threatened to kill him.” His friends claim that the police tortured him to confess the crime. In July, police arrested journalist, writer, and teacher Irfan Siddiqi alleging misappropriation in a rental deal. The journalist community, human rights advocates and civil society members believed that this is the part of the ongoing operation to arrest and silence the political opponents. He was later released on bail. In May, police arrested a Khyber News TV reporter, Gohar Wazir, and kept him behind bars for three days for covering the Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM) meeting. In March, Pakistani Federal Police (FIA) started investigating leading journalists Matiullah Jan, Murtaza Solangi, Azaz Syed, Ammar Masood, and Umer Cheema for showing solidarity with slain Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, during Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s visit to Pakistan in February. In February, Multan police arrested two brothers, Rawal Asad and Anas, for participating in a protest organized by the Pashtoon Tahaffuz Movement (PTM). The brothers, both the students, charged for treason. In February, Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) briefly detained Din News TV host Rizwanur Rehman Razi 'Dada,' and booked him for what agency believed, "defamatory and obnoxious" content against the judiciary, government institutions, and intelligence agencies on his Twitter account. Islamabad police arrested female Pashtun Rights and Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM) activist, Gulalai Ismail under Maintenance of Public Order (MPO) for almost 30-hour. Scroll down for the details and timeline of ASSAULTS | ARRESTS | HARASSMENTS


ENFORCED DISAPPEARANCES


Journalists, political workers, Baloch activists, social media activists, bloggers, Sindhi nationalists, Pashtuns, Urdu speaking activists, social media activists, minorities, lawyers, and civilians were continued to disappear and kidnapped. The majority of the victims of the enforced disappearances belong to the restive Province of Balochistan. Security forces also arrested Baloch women with their children and released them after several days of captivity in Hazar Ganji and Awaran. Many of the enforced disappearances have not been reported by the families of the missing persons fearing the bitter consequences.

In December, unidentified kidnappers wearing black uniforms kidnapped Advocate Colonel (R) Inam Raheem in Rawalpindi and warned the family against filing a police report. The kidnapped advocate was working on enforced disappearances and human rights matters. In October 2019, unidentified armed attackers kidnapped Advocate and member of the Lahore High Court Bar, Kashi Ali Chaudhry. In September, a well-known scholar, researcher, and professor of Mehran University of Engineering and Technology, Prof. Dr. Inamullah Bhatti went missing from Karachi Airport. In April, police in Rawalpindi kidnapped a local driver Waqas Ahmed, and the court shamefully granted his physical remand into custody for over two weeks. The police admitted his arrests when his mother Bilquis Akhtar, complained to the Prime Minister’s Citizen’s portal.


In April, unidentified men riding unmarked vehicles kidnapped Aab Takk News TV cameraman Syed Ali Mubashir Naqvi. In March, armed and masked men riding unmarked vehicles kidnapped Daily Jang reporter Matloob Hussain Mosavi. Both Mr. Naqvi and Mr. Mosavi belong to the minority Shia community.


Though the enforced disappearances continued unabated, the human rights activists succeeded to remind the powerful armed forces about their role in the matter of missing persons; in July, Defence of Human Rights chairperson Amina Masood Janjua informed that after her meeting with Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor of Pakistan Army public relations wing known as the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), two missing brothers of Bahawalpur, Majid and Sajid and eleven missing persons from Balochistan, returned homes after years of disappearance. The Director-General Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor of Pakistan disclosed that a special assistance cell has been operational at the General Head Quarters (GHQ) to look into the matters of Enforced Disappearances. Retired Justice Javed Iqbal, head of the Commission of Inquiry on Enforced Disappearances, announced that the commission knows the whereabouts of 3,938 out of 6,156 missing persons. In January 2019, Prime Minister Imran Khan had approved the amendment to the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) criminalizing Enforced Disappearances. Scroll down for the details and timeline of ENFORCED DISAPPEARANCES


MINORITIES | BLASPHEMY

Authorities and vigilantes continue to target Religious freedom and freedom of speech. The government offer and building of Kartarpur visa-free border crossings to facilitate the Sikh community for their pilgrimage to the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib tarnished because of blasphemy laws and a taboo to talk about the rights of the Muslim-minorities.



A court in Multan sentenced an academic and lecturer Junaid Hafeez on blasphemy charges. Mr. Hafeez is in jail for over six years and in solitary confinement since 2014.

In December 2019, people, coworkers, and public harass, threat, and forced Assistant Commissioner Attock, Jannat Hussain Nekokara, to retract her calling Muslim-minority Ahmadis, “Muslims.” In October, the provincial Sindh Government rejected a bill against forced conversions. The province has a chronic problem of forced conversions and many bigwigs are involved in patronizing kidnapping and converting minor Hindu girls to Islam. According to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), an estimated twenty Hindu girls are kidnapped every month in Pakistan. In October, violating the Supreme Court orders, the provincial Governor of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK), continued seizure of the Edwardes College Peshawar; the 200-year-old college is the property of the Church of Pakistan, despite the Supreme Court ruling in favor of the Church. In September, unidentified abductors kidnapped a 12-year-old Hindu Minority girl Monika Lohana, the second time in just one year. The kidnappers raped her during the first abduction in 2018, but the police did not arrest the influential. Instead, the victim’s family had to relocate to the other city in rural Sindh. In June, a session court sentenced a man "Saleem" to death alleging muttering blasphemy three years ago, in Lahore. In May, police attacked the peaceful family members of the minority Shia community protesting for the recovery of their randomly kidnapped loved ones in front of the residence of the President of Pakistan, DR. Arif Alvi, in Karachi. At least twenty-five Shia activists have been arrested and charged under sections 121/121A (war against State), or a declaration of the “Enemy of State.” 


During March and April 2019, as many as twenty minority Hindu girls have been kidnapped and forcibly converted to Islam. Many of the reported girls are under-aged and forcibly married to the kidnappers in remote parts of the Sindh province. 

In March, police attacked, injured, and arrested four members of the unprovoked transgender community for celebrating a birthday at Hawksbay beach in Karachi. In January, Pakistan barred 14 Catholics youths from attending the Catholic Church’s World Youth Day (WYD) in Panama, at Lahore’s Allama Iqbal International Airport. All the youths had valid visas and travel documents. Scroll down for the details and timeline of MINORITIES | BLASPHEMY.

 CENSORSHIPS | BANS | FINES


Authorities, courts, the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA), and Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) abused their powers to silence media and dissents. Private media houses have already retreated fearing shutdowns and financial deprivations. Interviews of the opposition party leaders were haphazardly taken off the air, and the words were muted. The government did not even spare the judges who struggled for a free and fair judiciary. 

In November 2019, the microblogging site Twitter shut down senior journalist Umar Cheema’s account for three days for sharing ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), foreign funding details.  

In September, Pakistan banned the airing of parliamentary speeches of the lawmakers Ali Wazir and Mohsin Dawar. Both the Members of the National Assembly (MNAs) had been released from jail after spending four months in jail. They belong to the Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM). In September, the provincial police of Punjab banned police officials from using camera phones while on duty after public backlash over custodial killings of Amir Masih and a mentally challenged man, Salahuddin. 

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Private channel Aap News abruptly pulled talk show “Aap kay muqabil,” off-air, TV channel Geo News (Urdu) host Saleem Safi interview with the President of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam, Moulana Fazal-ur-Rehman stopped from going on-air, Geo News was shut down again and later downgraded to farther digits; TV channel Hum News host Nadeem Malik interview with Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) leader Maryam Nawaz Sharif, abruptly taken off air within seconds of its broadcast, prominent journalist Hamid Mir’s interview with the former president and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) leader Asif Ali Zardari was also taken off air on Geo News, Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) ordered internet service providers (ISP) to block access to hundreds of the websites including alibaba.com, bloomberg.com, buzzfeed.com, and gsmarena.com alleging “unethical” contents. Later, the mentioned sites were unblocked while hundreds of the sites remained inaccessible, the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) banned the government advertisements to the DAWN group, owned newspapers, and channels. Scroll down for the details and timeline of .CENSORSHIPS | BANS | FINES


POLITICAL PARTIES ATTACKS AGAINST FREEDOM OF SPEECH AND FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION

The ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) colluded with the security forces and took direct aim at the journalists and the media houses for exercising press freedom and randomly jailed political opponents. In September 2019, the government announced to establish media tribunals in Pakistan. The media organizations and free press advocates declare the decision of media tribunals a “Black Day,” in the media history of Pakistan. Later, the government reversed the decision pretexting financial constraints. The ruling PTI, after coming to the power inured censorship and increased assaults on press freedom to silence opposition and critics.

In March 2018, Asif Ali Zardari, Co-Chairman of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), and the former President of Pakistan defended now an under arrest police officer, Anwar Rao in a TV interview and called him “hard-working boy.” The disgraced police officer has allegedly killed 444 civilians in fake Police Encounters.


One of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leaders, Masroor Ali Sial, physically assaulted a senior journalist and the President of the Karachi Press Club (KPC) Imtiaz Khan Faran, while recording a TV show. In June 2019, Fawad Ahmed Chaudhry, the Federal Minister for Science and Technology, attacked and physically assaulted critical anchorperson Sami Ibrahim, in public. The Minister belongs to the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI). Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) workers assaulted and injured Shiraz Gardezi, cameraman of Geo News television channel outside the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) court in Islamabad. Mr. Gardezi, is also a joint secretary of the National Press Club (NPC), Islamabad. The journalist was covering the corruption trial of PPP chairperson Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, and his father Asif Ali Zardari, who is also the co-chairperson of the party. Scroll down for the details and timeline of  POLITICAL PARTIES ATTACKS AGAINST FREEDOM OF SPEECH AND FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION

FREEDOM OF SPEECH AND FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION UNDER ATTACK ON CAMPUSES

Students Solidarity March

In November 2019, the students across the country organized Students Solidarity March to restore the unions, banned in 1984. The students were protesting against rising tuition fees, not affordable to a large portion of society, creating extreme disparity among students and strengthening the elites, better campus facility, and transportation. The government registered the case, arrested, and kidnapped the participating students and organizers of the solidarity march; unidentified persons kidnapped former chairman of the Pakhtun Council, Alamgir Wazir, from the Punjab University. Mr. Wazir is the nephew of Ali Wazir, a member of the National Assembly (NA) of Pakistan belonging to the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM). Mr. Alamgir Wazir was visiting the campus to receive his BS Gender degree. Unidentified persons kidnapped a political science student, Kareem Rajar, at the Sindh University, in Jamshoro, Sindh. Mr. Kareem was found in life-threatening condition with injury marks all over his body after four days. The Punjab University (PU) revokes M.Phil degree of the student, Hasnain Jameel. All three students were among the organizers on the Student Solidarity March. 
Scroll down for the details and timeline of FREEDOM OF SPEECH AND FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION UNDER ATTACK ON CAMPUSES

KILLINGS


  • November 2019, a man Dilawar Ali, kills his 27-year-old wife, Urooj Iqbal, for not quitting her job in Lahore, Punjab. The victim was a crime reporter for a local Urdu language newspaper.


  • ​September 2019, unidentified shooters kill 92News channel reporter Mirza Waseem Baig, in southern Punjab, Pakistan. Police failed to find the motive of the murder.

 

  • September 2019, unidentified shooters kill newspaper Daily Azadi journalist Jamil Ahmed, in Quetta. Police failed to find the motive of the murder.

 

  • June 2019, unidentified killers stabbed social media activist and vlogger Muhammad Bilal Khan to death in Islamabad. According to his father, “Mr. Khan had received a call and rushed out of home and later found dead.” Mr. Khan’s killing may be the result of arbitrary blasphemy as he had recently criticized the holy personalities of Islam.

 

  • April 2019, unidentified shooters kill Malik Amanullah Khan, a reporter working for an online newspaper, Meezan-e-Adl. Mr. Khan was the president of the press club in Parowa, in the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK). Police failed to find the motive of the murder.


 ASSAULTS | ARRESTS | HARASSMENTS


  • December 2019, a judge sentences journalist Nasrullah Chaudhry to five years imprisonment under Anti-Terrorism Act for allegedly possessing hate literature, in Karachi. Mr. Chaudhry was arrested in November 2018 and working for Urdu-language daily Nai Baat.  


  • December 2019, police arrested Ajeeb Lakho, a reporter working for the Urdu-language newspaper, Jurat, in Sukkur, the province of Sindh.  Mr. Lakho had recently published an article on alleged links between police and the oil smugglers in the area.

  • December 2019, Pakistani Federal police (FIA) raid opposition Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) office and allegedly seized records from media wing in Lahore.


  • December 2019, charged mob surrounds the English language daily newspaper DAWN in Islamabad and later campaign to hang the staffers and boycott the newspaper. The protesters were demanding the retraction of a news item linking London bridge attacker to Pakistan. 


  • November 2019, police arrest an educationist and activist of the local Saraiki community, Mehboob Tabish, for criticizing Chief Minister of the Punjab province, Usman Buzdar.


  • November 2019, Karachi police registered a treason and terrorism case against Jeay Sindh Qaumi Mahaz (JSQM) leadership and 2,000-2,500 un-named activists. JSQM largely represent rural people of the Sindh province, and the party activists were trying to reach Karachi Press Club (KPC), to mark ‘Paigham-i-Sindh,’ (message of Sindh). The succeeding governments had been alleging JSQM as a separatist movement.   


  • November 2019, an angry mob tried to attack and hurled profanity at the prominent Sufi singer, Manjhee Fakeer, in Bharoon Sharif, Sindh. The singer advocates inter-faith harmony through his singing. 


  • November 2019, authorities and local incumbents implicate & threaten Asif Jamali, working for KTN News and Sindhi language newspaper Daily Koshish, with death threats over his reporting on a minor’s sexual abuse in Dadu, a remote part of province Sindh. 


  • October 2019, the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), arrested Professor Muhammad Ismail, alleging him disseminating hate against the country on social media. Mr. Ismail is the father of the Pashtun rights and the Pashtoon Tahaffuz Movement (PTM) activist, Gulalai Ismail, who has been living in the United States after being subjected to arbitrary and repeated arrested and harassment. 


  • September 2019, under enormous pressure and intimidations by the government, daily The Nation fired cartoonist Khalid Hussain, over Prime Minister Imran Khan Caricature.


  • September 2019, two crew members of Dunya TV, reporter Ibrar Ahmed and cameraman Rehmat Ali, seriously injured in improvised explosive devices (IED) in Quetta. The crew was covering the first reported explosion when the second IED exploded. Twelve other people also lost their lives in the blast. 


  • August 2019, police arrested Ahmed Muneeb, publisher and editor of the Urdu-language daily Piyara Watan, on allegations of extortion in Karachi. According to Mr. Muneeb’s family, “he was writing on corruption and the police threatened to kill him.” His friends claimed that police tortured him to confess the crime.


  • July 2019, police arrested journalist, writer, and teacher Irfan Siddiqi alleging misappropriation in a rental deal. The journalist community, human rights advocates and civil society members believe that this is the part of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), ongoing operation to arrest and silence the political opponents. Mr. Siddiqi was an adviser to the former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. Mr. Siddiqi was later released on bail.

 

  • July 2019, Gharidah Farooqi, a female journalist and AAJ News anchor, reported that the Federal Minister for Interior, Brigadier (retd) Ijaz Ahmed Shah pressurized the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to shut down her defamation lawsuit against Minister of State for Climate Change, Zartaj Gul Wazir.

 

  • July 2019, a malicious social media campaign started by @IKWariors (Prime Minister Imran Khan) supporters asking the arrests of the journalists critical to the policies of the Prime Minister Imran Khan. Their hashtag ArrestAntiPakjournalists became the second most trended within hours. 

 

  • June 2019, the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) arrested Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) leader and the president of the Youth Wing Punjab, Waleed Butt, and alleging derogatory social media posts against the judiciary, army officers and the Prime Minister Imran Khan.

 

  • June 2019, Federal Urdu University (Karachi Campus) fired 150 staffers over protesting for medical care, vacation pay and other rights. ​


  • May 2019, Islamabad police alleged Gulalai Ismail — a leader of the Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM), of hate speech, inciting ethnic sentiments against the state and Pakistan Army in the aftermath of the brutal rape and murder of a 10-year-old girl (http://www.freedomtalk.net/ do not mention the names of minor rape victims), and booked her for sedition and under Anti-terrorism Act combined with other sections.

 

  • May 2019, police arrested a Khyber News TV reporter, Gohar Wazir, for covering the Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM) meeting. He was released after spending three days in detention.

 

  • May 2019, police arrested a retired military man over alleged blasphemous contents in Golra, Punjab. The complainant, Yasir Qasmi, filed a case against the former Army officer accusing him of using derogatory remarks responding to his posts about Muslim prophets.


  •  May 2019, Sanna Ejaz, a female activist of the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM), filed a police report after subjected to cyberbullying and what she describes as the final life-threatening call.

 

  • May 2019, police booked beleaguered Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM) Parliamentarian, Ali Wazir and eleven other activists on allegations of raising anti-State slogans.  

 

  • May 2019, police booked at least forty Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) activists for protesting rising food and living costs in different cities of the Punjab province.

 

  • April 2019, Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) officers assaulted court reporter of News One TV channel, Shaukat Korai in Sindh High Court (SHC). Mr. Korai was reporting on the court proceedings with the court’s authorization.


  • April 2019, Pakistan Federal Police book Dunya TV journalist Shahzeb Jillani alleging anti-state comments. All charges were dropped in May 2019.

 

  • March 2019, female TV journalist Gharida Farooqi was fiercely targeted and subjected to on online harassment after she was misinterpreted about the New Zealand shooter.


  • March 2019, Pakistani Federal Police (FIA) start investigating leading journalists Matiullah Jan, Murtaza Solangi, Azaz Syed, Ammar Masood, and Umer Cheema for showing solidarity with slain Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, during Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s visit to Pakistan in February.


  • March 2019, armed and masked kidnappers riding police vehicles kidnapped Daily Jang Reporter Matloob Hussain in Karachi.

 

  • March 2019, Pakistan bans Human Rights activist Jalila Haider from flying abroad. Jalila Haider is known for her work to improve the living standards of women and children of remote communities and a sympathizer of the beleaguered The Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM). 

 

  • March 2019, local administration of remote North Waziristan demolished the house of the journalist Hafeezullah Wazir.

 

  • February 2019, Vehari (Province of Punjab) police registered a case against Mr. Azhar Hussain for satirical social media posts involving the Army Chief, Prime Minister and former Chief Justice of Pakistan. 

 

  • February 2019, Multan police arrested four men and booked 40-45 unidentified people on allegations of defaming the government and hate speech.


  •  February 2019, using the pretext of hate speech, Pakistan intensified assaults on freedom of speech and social media activists.

 

  • February 2019, Multan police arrested two brothers, Rawal Asad and Anas, for participating in a protest organized by the Pashtoon Tahaffuz Movement (PTM). The brothers, both the students, charged for treason.


  •  February 2019, Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) arrested Din News TV host Rizwanur Rehman Razi 'Dada,' and booked him what agency believed, "defamatory and obnoxious" content against the judiciary, government institutions, and intelligence agencies on his Twitter account. Mr. Razi was released on bail after spending a few hours in custody.

 

  • February 2019, Lahore police arrested academic and the Pashtoon Tahaffuz Movement (PTM) activist Dr. Ammar Ali Jan for participating in a protest organized by the Pashtoon Tahaffuz Movement (PTM). Mr. Jan was released on bail after spending a day in custody.

 

  • February 2019, the Islamabad police arrested female Pashtun Rights and Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM) activist, Gulalai Ismail under Maintenance of Public Order (MPO). She was released after 30-hours of detention.  

 

  • February 2019, Pakistan banned two Members of the National Assembly (MNA) Mohsin Dawar and Ali Wazir from entering the Balochistan province to attend the funeral of murdered Arman Loni, who was reportedly killed by the security forces.  Both Mohsin Dawar and Ali Wazir are elected members of the Federal Parliament from North Waziristan and belong to the beleaguered Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM).

 

  • January 2019, the provincial police of Sindh registered terrorism cases against the activists of Pashtoon Tahaffuz Movement (PTM) for protesting in Karachi. 

 

  • January 2019, Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM), reported arrests of its activists in Mardan.

 

  • ​January 2019, a spokesman for the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) verbally abused GNN TV female reporter, Asiya Kausar. The spokesman said, “We don’t only threaten, we also break the cameras.”  https://www.facebook.com/PaklMedia/videos/227525154835088/ 


ENFORCED DISAPPEARANCES
 

  • December 2019, unidentified kidnappers wearing black uniforms kidnapped Advocate Colonel (R) Inam Raheem in Rawalpindi and warned the family against filing a police report. The kidnapped advocate was working on enforced disappearances and human rights matters.

 

  • December 2019, unidentified persons kidnap former chairman of the Pakhtun Council, Alamgir Wazir, from the Punjab University. Mr. Wazir was an activist of the student solidarity march and a nephew of Ali Wazir, a member of the National Assembly (NA) of Pakistan belonging to the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM). Mr. Alamgir Wazir was visiting the campus to receive his BS Gender degree.

 

  • December 2019, security forces arrest three Baloch women and their children in Hazar Ganji, Balochistan. The families belong to the Bugti tribe. The women and children were freed after a few days of detention. This is the second incident within weeks of women detention in Balochistan.

 

  • December 2019, security forces arrest four Baloch women Bibi Sakina, Syed Bibi, Hameeda, and Nazli in Awran, Balochistan. The women were released after a few days of imprisonment. The security forces did not give any reason for the arrest.

 

  • December 2019, unidentified armed persons kidnapped lawyer Shafiq Ahmed from Okara, the province of Punjab. Mr. Shafiq is already facing charges under cybercrime acts. He was also kidnapped in the past for his criticizing the state institutions. He returned home after three weeks.  

 

  • December 2019, Voice for Baloch Missing Persons – VBMP reports the arrest of a Baloch student, Abid Jan. According to VBMP, the student was summoned by the police and shifted to an undisclosed location.

 

  • December 2019, unidentified persons kidnapped a political science student, Kareem Rajar, at the Sindh University, in Jamshoro, Sindh. Mr. Kareem was found in life-threatening condition with injury marks all over his body after four days. he had participated in the Student Solidarity March.

 

  • November 2019, Voice for Baloch Missing Persons – VBMP reports the arrest of Baloch youth Nurdad from Gawadar, Balochistan.

 

  • November 2019, unknown armed persons, wearing police uniforms and riding government vehicles, kidnapped a young Bloch poet Ubaid Arif, on his return from the UAE. Mr. Arif has authored a Balochi language poetry book Gileep. He was kidnapped from Gawadar, Balochistan.

 

  • November 2019, unknown armed persons, wearing police uniforms and riding government vehicles, kidnapped Idrees Khattak, a senior political activist and former General Secretary of the "National Party Pakhtunkhwa," from Swabi, the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

 

  • November 2019, unknown armed kidnappers abducted social media activist, Hafiz Abdul Sattar in Punjab province. Mr. Sattar belongs to the opposition party Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N).

 

  • October 2019, unidentified armed attackers kidnapped Advocate and member of the Lahore High Court Bar, Kashi Ali Chaudhry. Mr. Chaudhry was part of the opposition parties and allegedly chanting slogans against law enforcement agencies.

 

  • October 2019, unidentified armed attackers kidnapped blogger Suleman Farooq Chaudhary, from Islamabad. Mr. Chaudhry was censorious to the government.

 

  • September 2019, a Well-known scholar, researcher, and professor of Mehran University of Engineering and Technology, Prof. Dr. Inamullah Bhatti goes missing from Karachi Airport.

 

  • June 2019, families of two students, Nasim Baloch, and Aftab Baloch, belonging to the beleaguered province of Balochistan, alleged that security forces kidnapped them from Karachi.

 

  • June 2019, Voice for Baloch Missing Persons – VBMP reports the arrest of a Baloch activist Attaullah, son of Abdul Malik, from Zsawag, Balochistan. Mr. Malik returned home in February 2020.

 

  • June 2019, Ali Haider Baloch, who campaigned and protested tirelessly for his missing father ten years ago and other enforced disappearances of his Baloch community, kidnapped in Gawadar, a city of the resistive province of Balochistan. He was tortured and released after five days. 


  • June 2019, the Voice of Shia Missing Persons reports the abduction of minority Shia activist Mesam Mehdi, from Karachi.

 

  • June 2019, the Voice of Shia Missing Persons reports the abduction of minority Shia activist Hakeem Abidi, from Lahore. 

 

  • April 2019, police in Rawalpindi kidnapped a local driver Waqas Ahmed, and the court shamefully granted his physical remand into custody for over two weeks. The police admitted his arrests when his mother Bilquis Akhtar, lodged a complaint on the Prime Minister’s Citizen’s portal. 

 

  • April 2019, undefined armed and masked men kidnapped Dr. Inam Ullah, a human rights activist and social worker in Attock.

 

  • April 2019, Rizwan Mehsood reported his father, Aqal Khan missing in Islamabad since February 14. Mr. Aqal had arrived at Islamabad International Airport from Gulf Air Flight GF770 to Pakistan but never reached home.

 

  • April 2019, undefined armed and masked men riding unmarked vehicles kidnapped Aab Takk News TV cameraman Syed Ali Mubashir Naqvi. Mr. Naqvi belongs to the minority Shia community. 

 

  • March 2019, undefined armed and masked men riding unmarked vehicles kidnapped Daily Jang reporter Matloob Hussain Mosavi. Mr. Mosavi belongs to the minority Shia community.

 

  • March 2019, security forces abducted Bilal Bhatti in the province of Punjab. The police informed family over the phone about his abduction after two weeks.

 

  • January 2019, a veteran leader of Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM-L), Momin Khan Momin kidnapped from Karachi. The party alleged security forces for the abduction. 

 

  • January 2019, Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM) alleged that security forces kidnapped its Karachi leader, Sher Mehsud on his way to join a protest in Karachi.

 

  • January 2019, a “sensitive agency” official confessed the custody of a “missing man,” Abdullah Saleh, in Lahore High Court (LHC) hearing contrary to the law that the family of the arrested person(s) must be informed within 24 hours of the arrest. Mr. Abdullah was arrested two years ago.

 

  • January 2019, unidentified persons kidnapped Allah Noor Khan, an activist of beleaguering Pakhtun Tahhafuz Movement (PTM). Mr. Allah Noor Khan belongs to South Waziristan.  


DEVELOPMENT
 

  • July 2019, Defence of Human Rights chairperson Amina Masood Janjua, informed that subsequent to her meeting with Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor of Pakistan Army public relations wing known as the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), two missing brothers of Bahawalpur, Majid and Sajid and eleven missing persons from Balochistan, returned homes after years of disappearance.

 

  • July 2019, retired Justice Javed Iqbal, head of the Commission of Inquiry on Enforced Disappearances, announced that the commission knows the whereabouts of 3,938 out of 6,156 missing persons.

 

  • July 2019, Director General Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor of Pakistan Army public relations wing known as the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), informed Defence of Human Rights chairperson Amina Masood Janjua, that a special assistance cell has been operational at the General Head Quarters (GHQ) to look into the matters of Enforced Disappearances. 

 

  • January 2019, Prime Minister Imran Khan approved the amendment to the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) criminalizing Enforced Disappearances.

 

  • January 2019, the Voice for Baloch Missing Persons (VBMP) temporarily ended their decade (3,464 days) long protest outside the Quetta Press Club. Shortly, the activists come back to the press club after enforced disappearances continue unabated.  

 

  • January 2019, Baloch Students Organization (BSO) reported the return of its abducted members; Aurangzeb and Zareef were reported missing in November 2018, however, the Senior Joint Secretary of BSO, Jiaand Baloch is still missing. The BSO claims that many of its members are missing on the allegations of anti-state activities. 


MINORITIES | BLASPHEMY
 

  • December 2019, a local court sentenced academic and lecturer Junaid Hafeez to death on blasphemy charges. Mr. Hafeez is in jail for over six years and in solitary confinement since 2014.

 

  • December 2019, people, coworkers, and public harass, threat and forced Assistant Commissioner Attock, Jannat Hussain Nekokara, to retract her calling Muslim-minority Ahmadis, “Muslims.” Muslim-minority Ahmadis live with fear, and many have been killed by the angry mobs, persecuted under blasphemy laws, and forced to leave Pakistan.

 

  • November 2019, a banned sectarian terror organization, Ahl-e-Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ), openly incite violence using loud-speakers against Shia minorities in Pakistan. ASWJ was renamed from Sipah-e-Sahaba (SSP) after strings of bloody attacks on leaders and civilians resulted in deaths. The largely attended public meeting took place in Karachi.

 

  • October 2019, authorities partly demolished a decade's old worship place belonging to the minority Ahmadi community in Murad Bahawalpur, Southern Punjab.

 

  • October 2019, the provincial Sindh government rejected a bill against forced conversions. The province has a chronic problem of forced conversions and many bigwigs are involved in patronizing kidnapping and converting minor Hindu girls to Islam. According to the Aurat Foundation, a women's rights organization, around 1,000 minority women, majority of them are young girls, kidnapped and converted to Islam every year. According to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), an estimated twenty Hindu girls are kidnapped every month in Pakistan.   

 

  • October 2019, violating the Supreme Court orders, the provincial Governor of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) continued seizure of the Edwardes College Peshawar. The 200-year-old college is the property of the Church of Pakistan, and the Supreme Court has ruled in favor of the Church. 


  • September 2019, unidentified abductors kidnapped a 12-year-old Hindu Minority girl Monika Lohana, the second time in just one year. The kidnappers raped her during the first abduction in 2018, but the police did not arrest the influential. Instead, the victim’s family had to relocate to the other city in rural Sindh.

 

  • July 2019, a minor Hindu girl, Pooja Kumari Sutarh, kidnapped from village Bakhsho Laghari District Hyderabad, the province of Sindh. A police report has been filed against the alleged kidnappers.

 

  • June 2019, Jadanwala Police booked Mr. Rana Javed over blasphemy allegations, in the province of Punjab. Mr. Rana has threatened to commit suicide via a video message if arrested.

 

  • June 2019, a session court sentenced a man "Saleem" to death alleging muttering blasphemy three years ago, in Lahore.

 

  • May 2019, vandals destroyed parts of a centuries-old building belonging to the minority Sikh community in Norwal, Punjab. The department of heritage (AUQAF) collaborated with vandals and sold the furniture fixtures of the building. 

 

  • May 2019, Islamists attacked and destroyed minority Hindus properties and the police booked Hindu veterinary, Ramesh Kumar, alleging blasphemy in Phulhadiyon, Sindh.

 

  • May 2019, the police jailed a minority Ahmadiyya (Ahmadi) Muslim man Zafar Abbas for three years for writing an Islamic blessing “MashAllah” outside his home in Khushab.

 

  • May 2019, a 13-year-old minority Hindu girl, Pathaani Bheel daughter of Pehlaaj Bheel, kidnapped in the remote region of Sarhari, in the Sindh province. The minority Hindu girls are kidnapped for forced conversion to Islam and then forced into marriage with the kidnappers.

 

  • May 2019, police attacked the peaceful family members of the minority Shia Community protesting for the recovery of their arbitrary kidnapped loved ones in front of the residence of the President of Pakistan, DR. Arif Alvi, in Karachi. At least twenty-five activists have been arrested and charged under sections 121/121A (war against State), or a declaration of the “Enemy of State.”       

 

  • April 2019, a 12-year-old minority Hindu girl, Krishna Hari Chand, daughter of Bapu Hari Chand and Aaso Kohli, kidnapped in Gharo-Thatta, a region of the Sindh province. The kidnappers threatened to kill the family if they file a police report. 

 

  • April 2019, two more minority Hindu girls, Anita Kohli and Aaso Kohli, kidnapped in the remote region of the Sindh province. The victim’s families know the kidnappers but the police failed to arrest the alleged kidnappers. The minority Hindu girls are kidnapped for forced conversion to Islam and then forced into marriage with the kidnappers.

 

  • April 2019, unidentified men kidnapped a minority Hindu girl Priya Kumari, in a remote village named Chundiko, Sindh.  Later, she was forcibly converted to Islam and given as a wife to a Muslim man.

 

  • April 2019, unidentified attackers attacked minority Shia mosque and desecrated the holy emblems in Steel Town, Sindh.   

 

  • April 2019, as many as twenty minority Hindu girls have been kidnapped and forced to convert to Islam during the past few weeks. Many of the reported girls are under-aged and forcibly married to the kidnappers in remote parts of the Sindh province.  

 

  • April 2019, unknown terrorists detonated a bomb in Quetta killing 20 people, nine of them belong to the Hazara-Shia minority in Quetta. At least 600 people of the Hazara-Shia community have been killed in Quetta during the last five years. Later, ISIS accepted the responsibility and announced their coalition with Anjuman Sipah Sahaba now ASWJ. Pakistan had released a terrorist, Ramzan Mangal, just two days prior to this massacre. Ramzan Mangle is a notoriously known target killer and mastermind behind hundreds of killings belonging to the Hazara-Shia community.

 

  • March 2019, father of two minority teenaged Hindu girls Raveena and Reena protested and claimed that her daughters have been abducted, converted to Islam and married. The provincial government of the Sindh province failed to act, but four people later arrested after Prime Minister Imran Khan’s intervention.

 

  • March 2019, police attacked, injured and arrested four members of the unprovoked transgender community for celebrating a birthday at Hawksbay beach in Karachi.   

 

  • February 2019, Karachi police disrupted a peaceful rally protesting for the missing persons of the minority Shia community and briefly detained Rashid Rizvi, who led the rally.

 

  • February 2019, a charged mob attacked a Hindu temple and desecrated holy statues and scriptures in Kunbh, Sindh.

 

  • January 2019, Pakistan barred 14 Catholics youths from attending the Catholic Church’s World Youth Day (WYD) in Panama, at Lahore’s Allama Iqbal International Airport. All the youths had valid visas and travel documents.


DEVELOPMENT
 

  • September 2019, the Supreme Court (SC) of Pakistan acquitted Mr. Wajeehul Hassan, who was sentenced to death over blasphemy accusations. Mr. Hasan spent two decades in jail.

 

  • April 2019, the Lahore High Court (LHC) ordered 14-year-old Hindu girl Reesha, in the custody of her parents and declared her conversion as a “forced conversion.”

 

  • March 2019, Pakistan removed provincial Punjab Information and Culture Minister, Fayyazul Hassan Chohan, for his derogatory remarks targeting minority Hindu Community.


CENSORSHIPS | BANS | FINES
 

  • December 2019, Geo News TV show, Capital Talk, hosted by veteran anchorperson and journalist, Hamid Mir, censored the President Arif Alvi’s opinion, “Musharraf's trial is not trial of Army this censorship is not good for those who are trying to hide the truth from the nation and trying to protect a convicted dictator.” The country’s President was giving his opinion on the death penalty of the former President and Army Chief, Pervez Musharraf.

 

  • December 2019, the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) informed the Senate’s Standing Committee on Information Technology that 830,000 websites blocked containing what the authority believed objectionable contents.

 

  • December 2019, Fayyaz Ahmad Dev, Deputy Inspector General (DIG) of Bahawalpur police orders his staff to follow the religious guidelines and pray five times a day. He threatened his staff by moving to the locations for non-compliance. 

 

  • November 2019, the microblogging site Twitter shuts down senior journalist, Umar Cheema account for sharing ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), foreign funding details. The account has been restored after three days of suspension.

 

  • October 2019, Justice Qazi Faez Isa, who stresses upon a free democracy in his rulings, revealed that the government hired UK-based Company “Find UK People” to spy on him and his family for a decade.

 

  • October 2019, Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) bans television anchors from expressing their opinions in TV shows citing orders of the Islamabad High Court (IHC). Later, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) served Pakistan Electronic Media Regu­latory Authority (Pemra) chairman, Saleem Baig, with a contempt of court notice overusing the court’s name on restricting TV anchors. 

 

  • October 2019, according to a report published in New York-based https://codastory.com/, Pakistan has contracted a Canadian based firm Sandvine to monitor, analyze and filter what authorities believe is unwanted material on the internet in Pakistan. https://codastory.com/authoritarian-tech/surveillance/pakistan-nationwide-web-monitoring/

 

  • October 2019, authorities attacked and destroyed the installations “Killing Fields of Karachi,” honoring 444 victims killed by a former cop Rao Anwar, in fake police encounters, in Karachi.

 

  • October 2019, Pakistan refused entry to Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) Asia Program Coordinator, Steven Butler, from attending Asma Jahangir Conference for Human Rights in Pakistan. According to Pakistan authorities, “Mr. Butler's name appears in the Ministry of Interior’s blacklist.”

 

  • October 2019, fearing incumbents wrath, TV channels refrained from showing the press conference of the political opposition and the President of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F), Maulana Fazal-ur-Rehman. 

 

  • October 2019, violating Islamabad High Court (IHC) ruling that everyone has a right to freedom of expression, Pakistan Ele­ctronic Media Regu­la­tory Authority (Pemra) banned live coverage of the President of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam, Moulana Fazal-ur-Rehman,press conference.

 

  • October 2019, police Shabqadar tehsil of Charsadda, parts of the Taliban-influenced province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), arrested barbers for trimming un-Islamic beards. Religious vigilantes indiscriminately target opponents for what they think is un-Islamic. 

 

  • October 2019, the Taliban-influenced province of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) warns males and females coming to public libraries not to sit or socialize with the opposite sex.    

 

  • October 2019, Islamabad police ban helping/ renting material & logistic support to the protesters of Azadi March – organized by the opposition parties against the government.

 

  • September 2019, Pakistan bans the airing of parliamentary speeches of the lawmakers Ali Wazir and Mohsin Dawar. Both the Members of the National Assembly (MNAs) had been released from jail after spending four months in jail. They belong to the beleaguered Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM).

 

  • September 2019, Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) warned private news channels to strictly follow the blatant censorship under PEMRA Code of Conduct 2015.  

 

  • September 2019, Islamabad High Court (IHC) bans judiciary staff, including subordinate courts, from using social media.

 

  • September 2019, private channel Aap News abruptly pulled talk show “Aap kay muqabil,” off-air. Senior journalists Rauf Klasra and Amir Mateen were hosting the show.

 

  • September 2019, Pakistan censored the speech of the Prime Minister of the Pakistani side of Kashmir, Raja Farooq Haider Khan, after he asked Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan, to clarify Pakistan’s policy on Kashmir.

 

  • September 2019, under enormous pressure and intimidations by the government, mainstream media censored the parts of the speech delivered by the Supreme Court of Pakistan Justice Qazi Faez Isa. The beleaguering Justice was talking about draconian censorship in the country.

 

  • September 2019, Pakistan blocks internet access in Azad Kashmir (Pakistani Controlled Territory) amid protests against repealing of Article 370 by India, in Indian held Kashmir.

 

  • September 2019, the provincial police of Punjab ban police officials from using camera phones while on duty after public backlash over custodial killings of Amir Masih and a mentally challenged man, Salahuddin. Politicians in Pakistan use cops as their target killers to silence press, political opponents and hide corruption. In March 2018, Asif Ali Zardari, Co-Chairman of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and the former President of Pakistan defended now an under arrest police officer, Anwar Rao in a TV interview and called him “hard-working boy.” The disgraced police officer has allegedly killed 444 civilians in fake Police Encounters. The PPP government kept him posted in one jurisdiction more than a decade against the procedural transfers and postings. Asif Ali Zardari is also in jail over corruption charges.

 

  • August 2019, private TV channel Geo News (Urdu) host Saleem Safi interview with the President of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam, Moulana Fazal-ur-Rehman, stopped from going on-air. Mr. Rehman is a fierce opponent of Prime Minister Imran Khan, and instrumental in garnering public support to oust him from the office. Geo News has not clarified the situation. Pakistani media is grappling with fierce censorship and the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) forced private news channels not to air the opinions of the opposing parties and journalists. 

 

  • August 2019, after the escalation of tension over Kashmir, Pakistan Ele­ctronic Media Regu­la­tory Authority (Pemra) banned the airing of advertisements showing the neighboring Indian artists.

 

  • August 2019, Facebook blocks Pakistani video journalist, TV host and philanthropist, Waqar Zaka, for raising his voice against human rights violations in Indian held Kashmir.

 

  • August 2019, a local court banned social activist and power critic, Zafar Abbas, from criticizing Karachi Electric (K-Electric) till mid-September. Mr. Abbas was active against K-Electric failures. More than fifty people have died of electrocution during current rains in Karachi.

 

  • July 2019, Pakistan shuts down Geo News again. The channel was later restored but downgraded to the farther digits. The channel has been taken off air intermittently over the years for liberal reporting and criticism on succeeding governments. This time the channel aired the interviews of the opposition leaders, but the interviews were abruptly taken off air within minutes.

 

  • July 2019, Pakistan blocks TV channels from covering convicted and under-trial political leaders.

 

  • July 2019, private TV channel Hum News host Nadeem Malik interview with Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) leader Maryam Nawaz Sharif, abruptly taken off air within seconds of its broadcast. TV channel explained the censorship in a tweet, “#HumNews firmly believes in a free & responsible media. Protecting #FreedomOfExpression is one of our core values. At the same time, we stand for the respect & dignity of the judiciary in line with our ethical values & the constitution. #PressFreedom.”

 

  • July 2019, Afzal Butt, cybercrime director of Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), informed the Senate Standing Committee on Information Technology and Telecommunication that FIA staffers are also involved in stealing the travel data used by passengers to register new mobile phones.

 

  • July 2019, the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) take three private channels AbbTakk TV, 24 News and Capital TV off the air for live coverage of Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) leader Maryam Nawaz. She presented video clips of one of the judges, confessing to sentence her father on corruption charges, former Prime Minister of Pakistan, Nawaz Sharif, under pressure.

 

  • July 2019, a large number of private TV channels censored the parts of the Maryam Nawaz Sharif’s press conference showing the judge, Arshad Malik confession of wrongly convicting her father, Nawaz Sharif, the former Prime Minister of Pakistan. Nawaz Sharif, who was removed over allegations of corruption in the aftermath of Panama Papers. His sentencing is largely seen as political victimization in Pakistan.

 

  • July 2019, the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) sent notices to 21 TV channels for airing unedited press conference of Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) leader Maryam Nawaz. She presented video clips of one of the judges, confessing to sentence her father on corruption charges, former Prime Minister of Pakistan, Nawaz Sharif, under pressure.

 

  • July 2019, undisclosed sources coerced journalists Umar Cheema, Azaz Syed, and Wjih Sani to deactivate their Twitter accounts. All three journalists work for the Jang Group and critical to the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI). However, journalist Wjih Sani’s account has been restored within a few hours.

 

  • July 2019, prominent journalist Hamid Mir’s interview with the former president and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) leader Asif Ali Zardari was abruptly taken off air on Geo News, one of Pakistan’s leading news stations. Mr. Asif Ali Zardari is in the custody of the Anti-graft court on corruption charges.

 

  • July 2019, the province of the Punjab Inspector General of Police (IGP) Arif Nawaz Khan baffled and enraged journalists and free speech advocates by announcing restrictive media policies not akin to his authority. Amid several other restrictions, he bars media crew entry from the police station. Media need permission ahead of entering the police stations for work-related matters.

 

  • June 2019, the Deputy Speaker of National Assembly, Qasim Khan Suri, bans the word “Selected Prime Minister,” from the assembly. The notion is well-established in Pakistan and overseas that Prime Minister Imran Khan has been planted in the parliament. The Deputy Speaker and the Prime Minister belong to Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).

 

  • June 2019, the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) fined Rs1 million (estimated $70000) private channel News One for airing Accountability Bureau (NAB) chairman retired Justice Javed Iqbal with a woman. The woman had  alleged that she was subjected to the harassment while meeting the NAB chief. 

 

  • June 2019, the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) reiterates to monitor online contents, record voice and call data under proposed Web Monitoring System (WMS) to arbitrary block what it believes, “grey” contents.

 

  • June 2019, Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) banned TV channels from airing TV-shows supportive to the Supreme Court of Pakistan’s Justice, Qazi Faez Isa. Alternatively, adverse coverage against Justice Qazi Faez Isa was aired to support and disseminate the government point of view against Justice Isa.


  • May 2019, Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) ordered internet service providers (ISP) to block access to hundreds of the websites including alibaba.com, bloomberg.com, buzzfeed.com, and gsmarena.com alleging “unethical” contents. Later, the mentioned sites were unblocked while hundreds of the sites remained inaccessible.

 

  • May 2019, Pakistan’s northernmost territory of Gilgit-Baltistan banned the distribution of the caps signifying Manzoor Pashteen, the leader of the Pashtoon Tahaffuz Movement (PTM).

 

  • May 2019, the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) bans the government advertisements to the DAWN group, owned newspapers and channels to punish Pakistan’s oldest media group for its defiance against censorships and refusal to drop criticism on government.

 

  • May 2019, under draconian censorship, SAMAA TV censored Human Rights activist Mohammad Jibran Nasir’s mention of Shia Missing Persons in a talk-show. Minority Shia community is protesting against the arbitrary kidnappings in front of the residence of the President of Pakistan, DR. Arif Alvi in Karachi. 

 

  •  April 2019, mainstream media blacked out the massive rally of the Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM) attended by hundreds and thousands of people in Miran Shah.

 

  • April 2019, the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) barred former Finance Minister, businessman and political rival, Miftah Ismail from going abroad and placed his name on a no-fly list (ECL). Mr. Ismail was scheduled to deliver lectures on Pakistan economy at Chatham House, Oxford and University College, London.

 

  • April 2019, Pakistani military ordered TV channels to air the only military approved defense analysts.

 

  • April 2019, the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA), ordered private cable operators to stop airing Channel 24, City 42, City 41 Faisalabad and Rohi City News after a renowned journalist Najam Sethi, discussed the relationship of the Prime Minister Imran Khan and his wife, Bushra Bibi.

 

  • March 2019, Faisalabad Arts Council banned singer and head of emerging Barabari Party Jawad Ahmad for criticizing Prime Minister, Imran Khan.

 

  • March 2019, Khyber district (Peshawar) banned transgender community from dancing at the wedding parties. Dancing is one of the primary sources of earnings for this community in Pakistan.


  •  March 2019, private TV Channel 24 disrupted and partly shut down in many parts of the country after Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting, Fawad Ahmed Chaudhry criticized the channel for airing a show critical to the Prime Minister, Imran Khan.  


  •  March 2019, the provincial government of Sindh bars leading journalists of local and international media houses such as BBC and AFP, a member of the jury and one of the nominees from attending a sports awards ceremony at the Governor House. 


  • March 2019, Pakistan largest ride-sharing Careem faced intense backlash after a humorous billboard about weddings.

 

  • March 2019, Pakistan again put Pashtun Tahafuz Movement’s (PTM) chief Manzoor Pashteen on the international no-fly list.

 

  • January 2019, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) provincial government of the Punjab province ended free WIfI facilities at the public spaces.

 

  • January 2019, Peshawar Press Club banned the Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM) from holding a press conference. PTM said that the presser was planned to discuss the problems of the Pashtuns.

 

  • January 2019, Pakistan media censored the protests of the Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM), organized in all the major cities in the country. 

 

  • January 2019, the provincial Sindh government’s Counter-Terrorism Depart­ment (CTD) established a social and digital media monitoring cell on the pretext of hate speech and anti-state activities.

 

  • January 2019, Zama Jawandoon, an organization working for women's rights, canceled the first women's bicycle rally after religious parties warnings and protests in Peshawar.

 

  • January 2019, Pakistan Ele­ctronic Media Regu­la­tory Authority (Pemra) warned television channels to censor what Pemra arbitrarily believes as “Indecent scenes, dialogues, extramarital relations, infidelity, violence, inappropriate dressing, rape scenes, bed scenes, glamour, use of drugs and alcohol, and intimate moments between couples,” in non-news content.

 

  • January 2019, the Chief Justice, Mian Saqib Nisar sustained censorship on airing neighboring Indian TV shows and contents in Pakistan. The Chief Justice alleged that Indian contents damage Pakistani culture.


  • ​January 2019, the provincial government of Punjab banned  Manto Festival by the Alhamra Arts Council alleging obscenity. Saadat Hasan Manto, was a born in India and moved to Pakistan at the time of partition. He was a writer, playwright, and author. His liberal writings have always been subject to surveillance and censorship in India and Pakistan.

 

  • January 2019, Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra), imposed a 30-day ban on airing of Neo TV show Harf-i-Raaz, after the host Orya Maqbool Jan’s telephonic conversation with Afghan Taliban on Pakistan’s national and foreign policy.


  •  January 2019, micro-blogging site Twitter informs veteran journalist Mubashir Zaidi that his tweets about the murders of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Superintend of police (SP) Tahir Dawar and Muttahida Qumi Movement (MQM) leader Ali Raza Abidi violate Pakistani law. Twitter protected the source of the complainant.


DEVELOPMENT
 

  • October 2019, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) served Pakistan Electronic Media Regu­latory Authority (Pemra) chairman, Saleem Baig, with a contempt of court notice over using the court’s name for restricting anchorpersons to appear on different television channels as analysts.


  • October 2019, the Lahore High Court (LHC) nullifies Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) 30 days ban on TV analyst Hafeezullah Khan Niazi. PEMRA had banned Mr. Niazi, from the TV show "Report Card" aired on Geo TV, alleging defamatory remarks against Senator Azam Swati. The Senator belongs to the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).

 

  • September 2019, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) ordered social media watchdog, Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) to follow due process to block what PTA claims “objectionable websites.” The court also ordered PTA to draw policies within three months explaining the reason for censorship. The court ruled that Over 800,000 websites blocked in Pakistan in violation of fundamental rights.  


POLITICAL PARTIES ATTACKS AGAINST FREEDOM OF SPEECH AND FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION
 

  • October 2019, province of Punjab Chief Minister's adviser Faisal Hayat Jabboana, participates as a chief guest in the Shuhada-e-Islam conference organized by banned terrorist organization Ahl-e-Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ) and Sipah-e-Sahaba (SSP). The organizations incite violence against religious minorities, mainly aimed at Shias and Ahmadi. Adviser Jabboana belongs to the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).


  •  September 2019, ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) created "media monitoring cell" in the finance ministry. The incumbents have failed to deliver on economic promises and the country has plunged deep into poverty and the necessities of lives have become unaffordable. The pro-PTI anchors are turning bitter critics to the government and the government pulling everything critical off-air.  

 

  • September 2019, ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) announced to establish media tribunals in Pakistan. Media organizations and free press advocates declare the establishment of media tribunals a “Black Day,” in the media history of Pakistan. The ruling PTI, after coming to the power inured censorship and increased assaults on press freedom to silence opposition and critics.

 

  • September 2019, Sindh police attacked protesting teachers and stopped them from going to the Chief Minister (CM) House. The teachers were planning to protests in front of the CM House to be heard. Murtaza Wahab, the Adviser to the Chief Minister of Sindh on Law, Anti-Corruption Establishment, and information supported police brutalities against teachers. He belongs to Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP).

 

  • July 2019, using verified Twitter account, ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) dubbed freedom of speech and press freedom as treason.


  •  June 2019, one of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leaders, Masroor Ali Sial, physically assaulted senior journalist and the President of the Karachi Press Club (KPC) Imtiaz Khan Faran, while recording a TV show. Click here for the video.

 

  • June 2019, Fawad Ahmed Chaudhry, the Federal Minister for Science and Technology, attacked and physically assaulted critical anchorperson Sami Ibrahim, in public. The Minister belongs to the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).

 

  • May 2019. The provincial Punjab government appoints Moavia Azam, as a committee member to monitor sectarianism and criticism in Islamic books and on social media. Moavia Azam, belongs to proscribed Sipahe Sahab (SSP), and ASWJ, proscribed Islamist groups known for many high profile killings and mass murders. The ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), had him elected as the Member of Parliament to win Islamists voters.  

 

  • April 2019, conspirators use photo-shop, fake news, social media accounts and generate hashtags to abuse and humiliate nonpartisan journalists Saleem Safi, Marvi Sirmed, Arshad Waheed Chaudhry, Hamid Mir, Mubashir Zaidi, Fakhar Durrani, Umar Cheema, and Azaz Syed. All the journalists are critical to the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).

 

  • April 2019, Finance Minister Asad Umar, has stopped giving interviews to mainstream channels over the dismal situation of the economy. He conducted a Q &A session with digital media representatives in his office, mainly with PTI-aligned platforms. Questions were scripted and agreed in advance. The Minister belongs to the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).

 

  • March 2019, Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) workers assaulted and injured Shiraz Gardezi, cameraman of Geo News television channel outside the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) court in Islamabad. Mr. Gardezi, is also a joint secretary of the National Press Club (NPC), Islamabad. The journalist was covering the corruption trial of PPP chairperson Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and his father Asif Ali Zardari who is also the co-chairperson of the party.


  • March 2019, Twitter suspended the account of Shahbaz Gill, the spokesman of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) led provincial government of Punjab for spreading fake news and targeting the political opponent Maryam Nawaz Sharif, the daughter of former Prime Minister of Pakistan. Mr. Gill had photo-shopped a letter to malign the opposition for asking US help.

 

  • March 2019, provincial assembly of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) passed a bill condemning Auratmarch and call it SHAMEFUL.

 

  • January 2019, failed to control increasing extrajudicial killings, Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting, Fawad Ahmed Chaudhry asked media to cut time on crime reporting. The minister belongs to the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).

 

  • January 2019, Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting, Fawad Ahmed Chaudhry alleged media for blackmailing of subsequent governments. The minister belongs to the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI). https://www.facebook.com/PaklMedia/videos/389490695152881/

 

  • January 2019, the provincial Punjab Minister for Culture and Information Fayaz-ul-Hasan Chohan, demeaned media and call it shameless and should not be off limits. The Minister was enraged over a journalist’s question about his party’s election promise of Medina State (a society based on Islamic laws). The minister belongs to the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).

 

  • January 2019, the journalists boycott the press conference of the Federal Minister for Water Resources, Faisal Vawda, after he bullied a senior journalist for asking a question about the controversial contract of the Mohmand dam, “Because you are my elder I am answering the question.” If this were someone else, I would not have answered and also set aside his mic.” The minister belongs to the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), he later issued an apology. 


MEDIA SITUATION IN PAKISTAN
 

  • December 2019, private news channel Aaj, muted former Governor Sindh, Muhammad Zubair’s mentioning of the name, “Malik Riaz,” in a TV show. Mr. Riaz is one of the richest and well-connected individual and real estate tycoons. Mr. Riaz is a disputed personality, and the former Governor was discussing his massive deal of £190million settlement with the United Kingdom’s National Crime Agency (NCA).

 

  • November 2019, state-owned Pakistan Television (PTV) shuts down news bureaus in Faisalabad, Abbottabad, and Dera Ismail Khan, leaving an estimated 75 workers unemployed. 

 

  • September 2019, Dunya news fired at least 300 workers, including seventy journalists from its offices across the country. The channel did not justify the firing of employees.

 

  • August 2019, Lahore Press Club claims that all the press clubs in Pakistan have blocked the entry of a newly emerged TV analyst, Irshad Bhatti, for his misdemeanor against a senior journalist and Lahore Press Club’s life member, Anjum Rashid. Mr. Bhatti and Mr. Rashid were participating in a talk-show on Dunya News.

 

  • August 2019, staffers of the daily Nawa-i-Waqt, penned a letter to the Chief Executive, Rameeza Nizami, demanding seven months of unpaid wages.

 

  • July 2019, Pakistani journalists protest across the country over censorship job losses, unpaid wages, and pay cuts.

 

  • May 2019, Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) sent notices to two private channels for “sensationalizing” the brutal rape and murder of a 10-year-old girl (http://www.freedomtalk.net/ do not mention the names of minor rape victims). Pakistani media turned judgemental, release the names and identities of minor victims and accused in the sensitive nature of cases like rape and murders. Media ranting and stubborn repetitive claims of being number and first to break the story had been damaging to the victims, media credibility, ethics, and journalistic values.    

 

  • March 2019, journalist’s organizations, media workers and the press clubs annoyed over the rapid implementation of the government’s plan to establish controversial Pakistan Media Regulatory Authority (PMRA) and termed it a tool for further cementing the existing draconian laws and attacks on Freedom of Expression and Freedom of Speech.

 

  • February 2019, journalists walked to the Karachi Press Club from their offices to protest the ongoing massive job and pay cuts in the media. As many as 2200 journalists pushed out of the jobs since 2018, and the media workers are protesting across the country.

 

  • February 2019, press clubs in all the major cities of Pakistan have banned Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting, Fawad Ahmed Chaudhry, over massive job cuts & non-payment of wages to media workers.

 

  • February 2019, journalist protested during a press conference of Fawad Ahmed Chaudhry, the Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting. The journalists alleged that Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government is involved in financial murder of working journalists and putting an end to press freedom. 

 
HONORED

 

  • November 2019, Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) honors English language newspaper, DAWN, Editor Zafar Abbas with Gwen Ifill Press Freedom Award for his struggle against censorship and resilience for Press Freedom.

 

  • November 2019, a private news channel, Geo News, wins News Channel of the Year, at the sixth Asian Viewers Television Awards (AVTA) in London. This the third year in a row for the Geo News to win AVTA.

 

  • April 2019, the International Press Institute (IPI) named DAWN journalist, Cyril Almeida, "71st World Press Freedom Hero." Mr. Almeida was honored for his courageous coverage on civil-military relations in Pakistan. His fearless and unbiased reporting resulted in his name being on the country’s notorious no-fly list known as Exit Control List (ECL) in 2016. 


FREEDOM OF SPEECH AND FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION UNDER ATTACK ON CAMPUSES
 

  • December 2019, Tufail Ur Rahman, a student of International Islamic University Islamabad (IIUI), killed and many injured in violent clashes between rival students unions, Islami Jamiat-e-Talba, and Seraiki Student Council.

 

  • November 2019, authorities continued to register police cases against the participants of the Student Solidarity March and the students of the Sindh University. Another student, Nadir Lakhiar of the Sindh University booked for protesting against the University’s administration’s maltreatment.

 

  • November 2019, The Punjab University (PU) revokes M.Phil degree of one of the main organizers, Hasnain Jameel, for his active participation in the student solidarity march. Mr. Jameel used drums to aware people of the march at the Faiz International Festival. Pakistan banned student unions in 1984, and now the student across the country are demanding the restoration of the student unions.

 

  • November 2019, police booked 17 students of Sindh University under treason charges for protesting over a shortage of water on the campus.

 

  • November 2019, the University of Engineering and Technology (UET) expelled two students, Saad Ibrahim and Sohaib Arif, for six months and permanently suspended their dormitory facility. The students were protesting against the sky-rocketing fee increase.  

 

  • November 2019, unknown kidnappers wearing law enforcement uniforms abducted a student, Salal, form a library in Balochistan.

 

  • November 2019, after fierce backlash and protests over sexual harassment of Vice-Chancellor, staff, and local administration, the University of Balochistan wants all the students to wear uniforms.

 

  • October 2019, Taliban-influenced Mardan district in the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), distributes Burqas (loose head-to-toe covering robe) to school-going girls.

 

  • October 2019, law enforcement agencies (LEAs) attacked Bolan Medical University’s (BMU) girl’s hostel in Quetta for undisclosed reasons. The LEAs roughed up and briefly detained a few girls' students.

 

  • September 2019, activists of a religious party’s students wing, Islami Jamiat-e-Talba (IJT) attacked & injured scores of Baloch students on-campus at the Punjab University, Lahore.

 

  • September 2019, Bahria University and the University of Engineering and Technology (UET) Lahore,  imposed on-campus gender segregation. The universities also cut-down break times to eliminate interaction between male and female students.

 

  • August 2019, security forces arrested several students after the Vice-Chancellor and administration of Bolan University of Medical & Health Sciences alleging them to be terrorists and anti-state in the restive province of Balochistan. The administration had denied hostel facilities to the students traveling ten to twelve hours to reach the university.

 

  • March 2019, a third-year English literature student at Bahawalpur's Government Sadiq Egerton College stabbed to death his associate professor Khalid Hameed, the head of the English department because the professor was arranging a welcome party for the students. The student construed it un-Islamic and blasphemous.  

 

  • March 2019, the Institute of Business and Management (IBM) of the University of Engineering and Technology (UET) in Lahore, enforced strict Islamic-leaning dress code for both male and female students and set a penalty of Rs5000 for non-compliance. The dress codes bar all students from wearing jeans; mandatory for the male students to wear Shalwar-Kameez on Fridays and female students from sleeveless shirts, capris, and mandatory headscarves.

 

  • January 2019, the vice chancellor of the University of Agriculture, Faisalabad, bans forthcoming Valentine Day at the campus and renamed it as “sisters day.” He allowed female students to accept gifts of hijabs and veils.

 














FreedomTalk  

Monitors Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Expression in Pakistan

 

ANNUAL REPORT – 2019
DETAILS & TIMELINE