Bureau (NAB), is targeting political opponents and committing one-sided accountability while the court (NAB) is reluctant to investigate the government’s allies. Pakistan Federation Union of Journalists (PFUJ) has termed the current state of censorship in Pakistan unprecedented and unseen even during military military rule. The Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) calls assaults on Freedom of Expression "draconian" and formed a journalist's defense committee to provide free legal aid to journalists booked under cybercrime laws. The government failed to control skyrocketing prices of food essentials and electricity which directly hit the consumers and pushed millions of more citizens into abject poverty. Elitism strengthened and seized the time on media, resources of the courts and twisted the constitution for its benefit. According to the UN Development Programme’s (UNDP) National Human Development Report (NHDR), "an estimated $17.4 bn are indulged by Pakistani elites as economical privileges." Police and the Law Enforcement Agencies used tear gas, truncheons, and anti-terrorism squads against students, government employees, lady health workers, teachers, peasants and farmers, laborers of Ibrahim Fiber, protestors for over-flooded neighborhoods, and power cuts after rains in the Cantonment Board Clifton (CBC). Two farmers and a police officer died of inhalation of expired tear gas during the protests. Minister for Interior of Pakistan Sheikh Rasheed Ahmad, faced a fierce backlash for mocking the death of the police officer. 

In March 2021, the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) allocated a whopping Rs1 billion for the publicity of the economic reforms and counter the opposition while many essential needs in Pakistan are put on hold due to the economic crisis. COVID vaccine is unaffordable for millions of Pakistanis, widespread poverty, and hundreds of Federal and provincial departments owe month-long salaries and retirement benefits to their employees. 

In October 2020, journalists, unions, and media groups protested across the country organized by the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ against diminishing press freedom, freedom of expression, massive layoffs, and unpaid wages. The participants alleged the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) for unprecedented censorship, fascist policies, controlled media, and disregarding constitutional rights. 

The State-owned Pakistan Television (PTV) and privately-owned Hum News lay off hundreds of employees and journalists. In 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's punitive actions against press freedom have put enormous pressure on Pakistani media.


ASSAULTS | ARRESTS | HARASSMENTS

Throughout the year, angry mobs, individuals, and unidentified attackers assaulted cameraman Nasir Mughal, Fazal Karim, Abbas Ali Jutt, Sidra Ghayas, Shoukat Memon, Bagh Ali Junejo, Salman Masood, Jameel Mahar, Ijaz Ahmed Khan, and A.B. Arisar. In February 2021, rural nationalists of the Sindh province attacked Pakistan's largest privately-owned media house Geo and Jang Media Group's head office in Karachi. The attackers ransacked and damaged the property and physically assaulted the employees. Geo News Managing Director Azhar Abbas confirmed via his verified Twitter account (@AzharAbbas3) that the attacking mob, “beat our Cameraman and staff.” The attackers were angered over their mimicking in a TV show Khabarnaak. In January 2021, the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) activists attacked and injured privately-owned channel ARY News crew during the coverage of PDM public meetings in Malakand, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province. In the video clip released by the ARY News, the crew was seen taking cover in the DSNG van. In December 2020, attackers attacked the office of a privately-owned channel Abb Takk and injured Sukkur bureau chief Imdad Pholphoto and journalist Altaf Kalorr in Sukkur. In April 2021, unidentified attackers shot and injured former chairman of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and senior journalist Absar Aalam in Islamabad.

Authorities’ assaults on Freedom of Speech continued and Press Freedom curtailed. An anti-graft court known as the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) was widely used to intimidate and silence political opponents and critical voices. Authorities used arrests, enforced disappearances, and unfounded charges such as sedition and terrorism against critics and journalists Iqrar Ul Hassan Syed, Bayazid Khan Kharoti, Umair Solangi, Ali Imran Syed, Asad Ali Toor, Bilal Farooqi, Absar Alam, Mohsin Naqvi, Sheeraz Jeelani, Matiullah Jan, Saeed Ali, Matin Achakzai, Ghulam Akbar Marwat Sahil Jogi, Imdad Phulpoto, Rustam Indhar, Adam Shanbani, and writer Ustad Khalid Chandio.

In December 2020, the digital media platform voicepk.net reported that Model Town (Lahore) police assaulted two of its journalists in the police station. The journalists were asking for a copy of the police report filed against an entertainer and political worker, Muhammad Asif, known as DJ Butt. Mr. Butt was later released on bail. Scroll down for a complete timeline.

ENFORCED DISAPPEARANCES

Minority Shia Muslims, Baloch nationalists, and Pashtun activists continued protests and sit-ins for missing persons. Victims of mass murders such as the families of the Shia Hazara community were compelled to protest to have the government notice periodical mass murders of their loved ones. Over the past five years, more than 600 members of the Shia – Hazara community killed in the troubled province of Balochistan for their faith. Teachers, Nurses, doctors, government employees, and simply the people were beaten and locked up for demanding constitutional rights, security, pay raise, and accessibility for basic needs like clean water and food. Scroll down for a complete timeline.   

Tortured bodies of missing persons

In April 2021, the remains of 16 coal miners were found in a mass grave in the tribal belt of Pakistan. The workers had gone missing a decade ago. In 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 kidnapped in January 2020 by unidentified kidnappers and found dead on June 16, 2020, with multiple gunshots. In December 2020, police found the dead body of a man named Shahid alias Kaleem in Karachi. Mr. Shahid’s wife informed the media that her husband was an activist of the Muttahida Qumi Movement (MQM) and kidnapped five years ago. His disappearance petition was pending in the Sindh High Court. Mr. Shahid’s body had severely tortured marks of electrocutions and head injury. In March 2021, just ten days apart, tortured bodies of two missing persons were found in Pakistan. The body of the Awami National Party (ANP) Balochistan spokesperson Asad Khan Achakzai recovered from Noshar, Quetta. Mr. Achakzai was reported missing in September 2020. Construction workers found the dead body of another missing person Muhammad Salam in North Waziristan.

In February 2021, The Peshawar High Court (PHC) authorized the trial of rights activist and civilian Idris Khattak by the military court, field general court-martial (FGCM). Though Mr. Khatttak has never served in the military nor associated in any capacity, the court referred to the Official Secret Act, 1923 (The Act of 1923).” Last year, the same court had ordered the release of the prisoners convicted by the military courts, citing the lack of justice and forced confessional statements.

In January 2021, the Islamabad High Court had held the prime minister and his government responsible for the failure to stop enforced disappearances. Conflicting reports estimate 5000 to 6000 missing persons in Pakistan, the majority of them belong to the politically unstable province of Balochistan. However, many activists term the numbers as underreported due to the fear of reprisals, difficulties in filing police reports in far-flung areas, and short-term disappearances. Scroll down for a complete timeline.


MINORITIES | BLASPHEMY

Incumbents’ leanings towards religious fundamentalists

Activists of Pakistan’s religious-based political party Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) seized the major intersections and highways in the large cities of Pakistan. TLP activists attacked different media workers and destroyed the recording equipment. The violent protesters attacked a privately-owned ARY News DSNG van and smashed the windscreen. At least three policemen were killed and 85 injured during the protests. The TLP's major demand is to expel the French ambassador from Pakistan after French solidarity with the victims of Charlie Hebdo and President Emmanuel Macron's ensuing statement “Islam as a religion in crisis,” in October 2020. The ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) had also protested over President Macron's statement. Pakistan has been surrendering to the demands of TLP in the past. During TLP protests in 2017, current Prime Minister Imran Khan had said that his party willing to join TLP sit-ins. The armed forces mediated the TLP 2017 uprising by handing out money to the protesters for going back homes and accepting TLP conditions. UPDATES: Under extreme pressure from across the world and within, Pakistan banned TLP, but In the middle of the Islamic uprising, Prime Minister Imran Khan urged the world leaders to equate blasphemy to Holocaust. Encouraged by Prime Minister's ill-timed demand, the religious fanatics regrouped and attacked police and paramilitary forces in a police station and kidnapped at least eleven and injured several policemen in Lahore. Periodically, Pakistan has been surrendering to the Islamic uprising & religious fanatics, colluding with militants such as Ehsanullah Ehsan (operative of the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan and a prime suspect of the Army Public School attack that killed 150 people including 134 students in 2014), and leniencies to the main accused in The Wall Street Journal journalist Daniel Pearl beheading in 2002 in Pakistan. Scroll down for a complete timeline.

Murders over blasphemy allegations

In July 2020, a man killed blasphemy suspect Tahir Ahmad in the courtroom in front of the judge in Peshawar. The victim, Mr. Ahmad, was a mentally challenged person. The killer told the police that “Prophet Muhammad instructed the killing in his dream.” In 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 an online hate campaign targeting his family. In October 2020, a security guard shot dead Malik Imran Hanif, the manager of the National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) in Khushab, over blasphemy allegations; vigilantes celebrated the killings, and the unrepentant killer admitted the murder as his “religious duty.” In February 2021, a 16-year-old shot dead Abdul Qadir in his clinic in volatile Peshawar. Mr. Qadir belonged to the Muslim Ahmadiyya (Ahmadi) communities of Pakistan. The police have confirmed the killing as a hate crime based on religious hatred. In March 2021, Taqi Shah, a minority Shia scholar were axed to death over blasphemy allegations in Jhang. The police arrested the suspect, and the District Police Officer (DPO) confirmed the blasphemy allegations as the motive for the killing.

Forced marriages and conversions

At least sixteen cases of kidnappings, forced conversion and forced marriages of minority Hindu and Christian girls were surfaced or reported. However, many cases were underreported due to the fear of retaliation, access to the fair justice system, and non-cooperation by the local police. Most of the girls were below the legal age of marriage but the courts validated the fake documents presented by the kidnappers. In October 2020, a 44-year-old man kidnapped a 13-year-old minority Christian girl Arzoo Masih and forced her into marriage in Karachi. A police case had been registered after public backlash and protest in front of the Karachi Press Club. Later, a local court validated the marriage disregarding the official documents proving that the girl was underage. After a fierce campaign on social media, the Federal Government intervened, and the victim was sent to a shelter. In March 2021, influentials kidnapped and allegedly raped a 15-year-old minority Hindu girl Rani Meghwar Chachro, in Tharparkar. The kidnappers also kidnapped her father for filing a police report. This is the second time Rani Meghwar was kidnapped, and allegedly raped. Sindh province is the epicenter of the Hindu girls kidnapping and forced marriages. The province is ruled by the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), largely consisting of wealthy landowners with political inheritance. PPP vehemently protects the Bhutto family and the vested interests of its members while people continue to beg for clean water, medical, transportation, jobs, security, and cleanliness. Mian Abdul Haq, commonly known as "Mian Mitthu," is the ringleader of forced marriages and forced conversions of underage minority girls in the Sindh province also belongs to Pakistan People’s Party (PPP). Each year, as many as 700 Hindu and Christian minor girls are kidnapped in Pakistan, while many cases remain underreported. In most of the cases, the court rulings side with the kidnappers as police collude with the kidnappers because the majority of the victims belong to underprivileged families. 

Transgender community

Pakistani transgender community continued their struggle towards recognition, equal rights, and social justice. At least three cases of attacks were reported against the transgender community due to their identity. In October 2020, the provincial Punjab Public Service Commission (PPSS) refused a female lecturer job to a transgender individual named Fayyaz, now known as Faizi. The official letter mentioned the reason for the denial of Faizi's gender. the letter states, "the higher education department has requisitioned the posts only for male and female, whereas transgender candidates are not eligible for the subject post." 

Attacks on minority Shia Muslims

In August 2020, the majority of Muslim groups increased anti-Shia campaigns while the government watched silently. Social media exploded with the demands to behead Shias and calling Shias “Kafir (infidels).” At least six members of the Shia community were killed and authorities booked as many as fifty Shias over blasphemy allegations. Over the years, an estimated 400 Shia activists have been missing in Pakistan and their loved ones protesting for the recovery of the missing persons; on several occasions, the law enforcement agencies have used force to disrupt peaceful protestors. 

National Commission for Minorities (NCM)

In May 2020, Pakistan excluded the Muslim-minority Ahmadiyya (also known as Ahmadis) 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, Zulfiqar 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.

CENSORSHIPS | FINES

Pakistan Telecom Authority (PTA) widely and arbitrarily used unchecked powers to block, filter, warned and censored international video-sharing, networking, and microblogging sites. Though the authorities alleged indecency, vulgarity, and against the values of religious and Pakistani culture for their actions, freedom of speech and freedom of expression activists believed the censorship meant to undo the criticism towards the incumbent as the mainstream media is going through under severs censorship.

During the year under review, the Pakistan Telecom Authority (PTA) had microblogging and social networking service Twitter to block criticism towards the judiciary in Pakistan, issued Notices to Google Inc, YouTube, and Wikipedia over allegations of disseminating sacrilegious and vulgar content.

In March 2021, TikTok, a short-length video-sharing social networking platform blocked a second time within a year and restored with tough conditions after few weeks. In January 2021, PTA asked social media platforms to block the movie Lady of Heaven. In September 2020, PTA banned dating apps Tinder, Grindr, Tagged, Skout and SayHi. In 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. TikTok also reported Pakistan as one of the five markets in terms of video removals. In 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. Scroll down for a complete timeline.

Censorship on Books and contents

In September 2020, authorities seized 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 PM Khan's victory in the 2018 elections. The book's cover had pictures of Prime Minister Imran Khan, General Qamar Javed Bajwa, Chief of Army Staff of the Pakistan Army, and the opposition’s leaders. In July 2020, the provincial government of the Punjab province banned 100 textbooks over allegations of "blasphemous contents." Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) governs the Punjab province. Also in July 2020, the provincial government of the Punjab province passed the Tahaffuz-e-Bunyad-e-Islam Bill, which granted more unchecked powers to the law enforcement authorities to visit the publishers, review the manuscripts, and seize copies of the imported books, and arbitrarily ban the books they believe un-Islamic. In May 2020, the provincial Minister of Punjab for School Education, Murad Raas, banned New Year, Halloween, Valentine's day, and April fool from the provincial textbooks. He claimed in his verified Twitter (@DrMuradPTI) account the ban meant to encourage Western values in Pakistan.

POLITICAL PARTIES ATTACKS ON FREEDOM OF SPEECH AND FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION

In April 2021, Pakistan’s National Assembly (NA) Standing Committee on Interior passed a bill asking to amend the Pakistan Penal Code and Code of Criminal Procedure 1898 and criminalize criticizing or mocking the armed forces of Pakistan and punishable with two years in jail, a fine of Rs500,000, or combined. The bill was tabled by the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) parliamentarian Amjad Ali Khan.

In February 2021, Saifullah Jan, a correspondent for the Associated Press (AP) in Pakistan, and a member of the Charsadda Press Club alleged that four armed men kidnapped and tortured him in the area office of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), in Charsadda. According to Mr. Jan, "he was targeted in the past and the attack is in retaliation for his filing of the police report." One of the accused Abdullah is the office-bearer of the local settings of PTI. PTI has not refuted the allegations. In October 2020, Shiraz Abbasi, an office-bearer of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), assaulted reporter Sanjay Sadhwani, working for privately-owned channel SAMAA.

In August 2020, Pakistani female journalists and rights activists signed a joint statement against online threats and trolls committed by the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), its affiliates, and activists. Read Statement.  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. In 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. In 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 a US national vlogger, Ms. Cynthia D. Ritchie. Scroll down for a complete timeline.

FREEDOM OF SPEECH AND FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION UNDER ATTACK ON CAMPUSES

Educational institutions subdued by racism against the students coming from underprivileged and remote areas in Pakistan and expelled the students for protesting against such discriminations while the students of ethnic majority attacked the students coming from the other parts of the country. In March 2021, student Abdul Haq was killed and five more wounded in violent clashes among different student factions at the National University of Modern Languages (NUML). 

In November 2020, the administration of the Bahauddin Zakaria University in Multan canceled a scheduled talk of the educationist and student rights activist Ammar Ali Jan on climate change after a group of students branded him as anti-state. Unprecedented censorship on freedom of expression and free thinking has many educational institutions cancel and fire the liberal educationists. In 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 had also booked Mr. Jan under the sedition act for campaigning students’ rights and taking part in Students Solidarity March in 2019 – the charges were later dropped. In 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 denies accepting them as Muslims. In September 2018, Pakistan had expelled economist, Dr. Atif Mian, from Prime Minister Imran Khan-led Economic Advisory Council (EAC) after objections from the religious fundamentalist.

In April 2021, the Islamia University in Bahawalpur (IUB), the University of Central Punjab (UCP) and the Capital University of Science and Technology expelled and barred students for protesting over reductions of seats, scholarships, and facilities for the marginalized students belonging to the under-developed regions of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and Balochistan province. 

The Kohat University of Science and Technology (KUST), University of Peshawar, Bacha Khan University, and Hazara University Abbottabad enforced strict Islamic dress codes for female students and faculties while the University of Lahore expelled a male and a female student for on-campus hugging.

Just within a week in January 2021, police attacked, injured, and briefly detained at least 49 students of the National University of Modern Languages (NUML), University of Management and Technology (UTM), and the University of Central Punjab (UCP) in different cities of the Punjab province for protesting over on-campus exams during the COVID19 surge, better dorm facilities, tuition fee, and internet disruptions. In 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 of Balochistan 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 students cannot even afford a device in Pakistan.

COVID-19

Superstition and misleading information such as anger of God and punishment to infidels were predominant during the start of the pandemic. Large media houses blended with the religious fallacies and used the pandemic to further instigate and mock the west. A mainstream channel translated the French word “merci,” as mercy after Eiffel Tower illuminated “merci,” honoring healthcare workers. In April 2020, an annual religious congregation in Raiwind infected 27% of the population because the participants gathered from across the country and overseas.

In 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 for COVID-19 patients in Chaman, a city of the restive province of Balochistan. The area Deputy-Commissioner (DC) admitted the arrest after three days.

All major political parties and alliances, the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), and Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) hold public rallies with thousands of participants and jeopardized the lives of millions of Pakistanis. The politicians cajoled party workers to accompany them at the time of going to the courts and in press conferences. Media houses openly violated SOPs with morning and game shows. Pakistan has lost at least 31 journalists and media crew during the pandemic including some senior journalists; Zafar Rasheed Bhatti, Johar Majeed, Tariq Mehmood Malik, Arshad Waheed Chaudhary, Abu Talib Nizami, Fakharuddin Syed are among them. The virus has infected as many as 500 journalists and members of the media.

In March 2021, Transparency International (TI) sent a letter to Prime Minister Imran Khan over COVID vaccine cost, possibilities of corruption and also reminded him that free vaccination is the government's responsibility.

 
RIGHTS MOVEMENTS AND DISSENTS

Plight of the Ismail family

In February 2020, an anti-terrorism court (ATC) revoked the bail of retired professor Muhammad Ismail, the father of the Pashtun rights activist, Gulalai Ismail. According to Ms. Ismail’s tweets, the Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) raided her house and arrested her ailing father; Mr. Ismail was later brought back to his house, and the CTD officers planted fabricated papers/receipts to generate fake evidence against the family. Ms. Ismail further tweeted, "the police refused access to medications and clothing to Mr. Ismail when her mother wanted to give it to Mr. Ismail in the police station and she was told, “He is not in the police station.” Ms. Ismail also reported the raids on her relatives’ houses in her village.

In September 2020, Pakistani authorities had added new terrorism charges against 66-year-old Mr. 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. After intentional and punitive delays in the bail hearing, Mr. Ismail granted bail in April 2021, after spending around two months in jail.

The whole Ismail family deny 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 with appreciations and 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. After years of intimidation, the authorities have failed to prove any wrongdoings against the Ismail family while Ms. Gulalai Ismail has self-exiled to the United States.


Aurat March

In March 2021, a local court ordered the registration of the police report over blasphemy allegations against the organizers of the Aurat (women) march in Peshawar. Images and videos were widely shared on social media claiming the march participants had committed blasphemy against sacred personalities of Islam. However, the fact-checks and forensic proved the blasphemous claims wrong and a part of a campaign to malign Aurat March. Conservative and religious groups have been terming Aurat March or women empowerment against the norms of Pakistani culture and Islam.


Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM)

In February 2021, authorities sealed the office of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) and seized sound-system over songs honoring banned and Self-exiled founder, Altaf Hussain.


Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM)

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. Federal and provincial authorities continued repressing PTM. PTM leadership including Manzoor Pashteen, lawmakers Ali Wazir and Mohsin Dawar, and Hundreds of activists faced recurring arrests and controlled freedom of movement within and outside the country. On several occasions, authorities barred Mr. Wazir and Mr. Dawar from entering their constituencies. Mr. Wazir and many other PTM activists are languishing in jails. In January 2020, authorities arrested Ameena Zaman, a female protester in her 70s for peacefully protesting the arrest of the leader of PTM, Manzoor Pashteen. In June 2020, Pakistani state-owned television (PTV) ended 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 while privately-owned channels have been banned to air the coverage of PTM. 
     


KILLINGS - May 2020 – May 2021, Timeline 


  • April 2021, armed robbers shot dead journalist Abdul Wahid Raisani, a sub-editor for Daily Azadi, in Quetta. Mr. Raisani was going home after work when the robbers intercepted him and tried to snatch his motorcycle, upon resistance, the robbers shot him dead.


  • April 2021, local police arrested a man Haq Nawaz, on allegations of killing his son, journalist Waseem Alam. Mr. Alam was an editor of the newspaper, Sada-e-lawaghir in Karak, part of the Khyber Pakhtunkwa (KP) province. According to the police, suspect Mr. Nawaz has confessed to the killing. However, the motive of the killing was not asserted. ​​


  • ​​​March 17, 2021, unidentified shooters killed Royal News TV and Daily Puchano journalist Ajay Kumar Laalwani in Sukkur, part of the Sindh province. Mr. Laalwani belonged to the minority Hindu community and voiced his concerns over forced marriages, conversions, and rights. He was killed in a barbershop. The police are investigating the motive of the killing.  According to LAL MALHI, Member National Assembly of Pakistan and theParliamentary Secretary for Human Rights, “the legal heirs did not approach the police station for lodging the police report, a committee of the senior police officers has been formed for conducting an impartial investigation.” The official notification shared by Mr. Malhi on his verified Twitter account has the names of the police officers included.​ DEVELOPMENT: On March 28, 2021, the police in Sukkur city announced the arrest of the prime suspect and two of his accomplices. The police claimed to recover the murder weapon. However, the lawyer representing the deceased journalist said the police are hesitant to arrest the real suspect. April 3, 2021: Upon request of Mr. Dileep Kumar, the father of Mr. Lalwani, the provincial administration of Sindh changed the Investigation Officer (IO) for henceforth investigation. 


  • December 2020, unknown killers shot dead a journalist Malik Nizam Tani, working for a local newspaper newspaper in Gujrat. The police have registered a case against the unknown suspects. Though the motive of the killing remained unclear, the journalist was reportedly receiving threatening calls.  


  • ​​​December 2020, unidentified attackers killed Qais Javed Masih, a minority Christian journalist and the owner of the web-based TV channel Ahad Nama, in Madina Colony, part of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province. The police are investigating the motive of the killing.​


  • November 2020, killers shot dead local Sindhi language newspaper Sindh Express reporter Noor Lanjwani in Jacobabad, the province of Sindh. According to the police and family, the murder is the result of a tribal enmity and police raiding for the suspects, nominated by the family.​


  • 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 - May 2020 – May 2021,Timeline


  • April 20, 2021, an unidentified bike rider shot a senior journalist and ex-chairman of the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA), Absar Alam, in the stomach. Mr. Alam was walking in a park close to his home in Islamabad, the heavily guarded capital city of Pakistan. Mr. Alam’s injury was not life-threatening and he released a video message shortly after the attack with some details of the shooting. A case has been registered against an unknown attacker and the government has also condemned the attack.


  • April 2021, activists of Pakistan’s religion-based political party Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) seized the major intersections and highways in the major cities of Pakistan. TLP activists attacked different media workers and destroyed the recording equipment. The violent protesters attacked a privately-owned ARY News DSNG van and smashed the windscreen. At least three policemen were killed and 85 injured during the protests. The TLP's major demand is to expel the French ambassador from Pakistan after French solidarity with the victims of Charlie Hebdo and President Emmanuel Macron ensuing statement “Islam as a religion in crisis,” in October 2020. The ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) had also protested over President Macron's statement. Pakistan has been surrendering to the demands of TLP in the past. During TLP protests in 2017, current Prime Minister Imran Khan had said that his party willing to join TLP sit-ins. The armed forces mediated the TLP 2017 impasse by handing out money to the protesters for going back home and accepting TLP conditions. UPDATES: Under extreme pressure from across the world and within, Pakistan banned TLP, but In the middle of the Islamic uprising, Prime Minister Imran Khan urged the world leaders to equate blasphemy to Holocaust. Encouraged by Prime Minister's ill-timed demand, the religious fanatics regrouped and attacked police and paramilitary forces in a police station and kidnapped at least eleven and injured several policemen in Lahore. Periodically, Pakistan has been surrendering to the Islamic uprising & religious fanatics, collusion with militants such as Ehsanullah Ehsan (operative of the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan and prime suspect of the Army Public School attack that killed 150 people including 134 students in 2014), and leniencies to the prime accused in The Wall Street Journal journalist Daniel Pearl beheading in 2002 in Pakistan. April 20, 2021: TLP religious fundamentalists succeeded in bringing Pakistan to its knees over blasphemy and forced the Islamists leaning The ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) to call an urgent session of the National Assembly of Pakistan to debate over the resolution for the removal of the French Ambassador. As the session begins, PTI lawmaker Amjid Ali Khan presented a resolution condemning reprint of controversial cartoons in Charlie Hebdo, a French satirical weekly magazine, and French President Emmanuel Macron.


  • April 2021, following the orders of the court, the police booked Islamabad’s organizers and partakers of the Aurat (women) march for blasphemy. However, the orders of charges were issued by a court in Peshawar, part of the ultra-conservative province of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP). Images and videos widely shared on social media claiming the march participants have committed blasphemy against sacred personalities of Islam, but the fact-checks and forensic proved the blasphemous claims were fake, photo-shopped, and part of a campaign to malign Aurat March. Fanatics and patriarchal have been terming Aurat March or women empowerment against the norms of Pakistani culture and Islam.  


  • April 2021, police arrested journalist Alla Khan for covering the beleaguered Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM) in the Tribal belt of Wana, South Waziristan. The journalist owns local media outlet Zhagh news. Journalists from the Wana Press Club protested for the release of Mr. Khan. According to the local police, Mr. Khan has been arrested for violating COVID-19 SOPs. 


  • April 2021, Karachi Bachao Tehreek reported the arrests of its activists Khurram Ali, Erum Baji, Zara, Israr, and others in Kausar Niazi Colony. Karachi Bachao Tehreek is a movement campaigning to end the demolition of working-class Karachi settlements and markets in the name of urban development.​


  • March 2021, Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) claimed that Rana Muhammad Azeem, secretary-general of PFUJ has received life threats from a gangster after exposing mafias in a TV talk-show aired on a privately-owned channel 92 News. Just a few weeks ago, a court notice was published in the leading newspaper “Jang,” Karachi edition accusing Mr. Azeem of criminalities. However, Mr. Azeem did not name the person who threatened him or how did he communicate his threat? PFUJ termed the cases against Mr. Azeem as baseless.


  • March 2021, the provincial Sindh police booked journalists, Sindhi nationalists, and rights activists belonging to Jeay Sindh Qaumi Mahaz (JSQM), Jeay Sindh Mahaz, and other groups representing the rural population of Sindh under the Anti-Terrorism Act. The protesters gathered in front of the Sukkur police chief office over the extrajudicial killing of Mr. Irfan Jatoi, a student of the Sindh University. Some of the individuals facing terrorism charges; bureau chief of Samma TV Sahil Jogi, bureau chief of Abtak TV Imdad Phulpoto, Rustam Indhar of daily Puchano, journalist Adam Shanbani, writer Ustad Khalid Chandio, Dr. Niaz Kalani of JSQM, Riaz Chandio of JSM, Ghulam Nabi and Sajid Jatoi, brothers of deceased student Irfan Jatoi. The police alleged the deceased was a wanted criminal.  


  • March 2021, the police registered a case against journalist Ghulam Akbar Marwat over allegations of blackmailing, interference in the government’s functioning, and misleading the public in Lakki Marwat, the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP). Mr. Marwat termed the case retaliatory and linked to his report exposing the corruption of the Food Department in flour distribution. Mr. Marwat is also the president of the Lakki Marwat Press Club.


  • February 2021, Sindhi nationalist protesters attacked Pakistan's largest privately-owned media house Geo and Jang Media Group's head office in Karachi. The attackers ransacked and damaged the property and physically assaulted the employees. Geo News Managing Director Azhar Abbas confirmed via his verified Twitter account (@AzharAbbas3) that the attacking mob, “beat our Cameraman and staff.” The protesters were angered over journalist Irshad Bhatti mimicking Sindhis in the comedy TV show Khabarnaak. According to Sindhi nationalists, Mr. Bhatti has been targeting them from time to time. Mr. Bhatti offered an apology for what he believed was offensive to Sindhi nationalists. The attack was surprising because the provincial Sindh government had banned rallies, protests, and all sorts of public assemblies just a few days ago. However, the police did not stop the mob from attacking. The provincial management is predominantly Sindhis. Provincial statics show the 95 percent of the government jobs are held by the rural Sindhi while urbanites known as Muhajirs or Urdu speaking deprived of government jobs through a quota system. Nevertheless, much of the provincial mainstream media has a large concentration of Muhajirs. The succeeding governments keep the urban-rural rift intact for political gains. Political sarcasm and comedy shows are fast disappearing in Pakistan because of nationalists and religious fundamentalists. Artists and journalists face risks of lives, attacks, arrests, bans, job losses, blasphemy charges, and trolls. Geo and its staff have been targeted intermittently. Editor-in-Chief of Jang and Geo Group, Mir Shakil ur Rahman spent more than 200 days behind bars in a politically motivated and retaliatory case, the Supreme Court of Pakistan granted him bail on November 9, 2020.


  • February 2021, the Lahore High Court Chief Justice Muhammad Qasim Khan ordered the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to act against individuals running YouTube channels and tighten the surveillance over electronic media targeting the judiciary. There is a growing concern about selective justice and government-friendly judiciary in Pakistan. The Supreme Court of Pakistan and sub-ordinate courts have dissimilar rulings in dealing with the cases of legal similarities such as foreign funding, dual nationalities for holding public office, property beyond means, and encroachments; The ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) gets relief from the courts while the political opponents and critics are penalized.  


  • February 2021, The Peshawar High Court (PHC) authorized the trial of rights activist and civilian Idris Khattak to the military court, field general court-martial (FGCM). Though Mr. Khatttak has never served in the military nor associated in any capacity, the court referred to the Official Secret Act, 1923 (The Act of 1923).” Last year, the same court had ordered the release of the prisoners convicted by the military courts, citing the lack of justice and forced confessional statements. BRIEF TIMELINE: 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). November 2019, unknown armed persons, wearing police uniforms and riding government vehicles, kidnapped Idris Khattak, a senior political activist and former General Secretary of the "National Party Pakhtunkhwa," from Swabi, the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.


  • February 2020, an anti-terrorism court (ATC) revoked the bail of Muhammad Ismail, the father of the Pashtun rights activist, Gulalai Ismail. According to Ms. Ismail’s tweets, the Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD), Mr. Ismail was later brought back to their house located in the village Swabi Marghuz, and the CTD officers planted fabricated papers/receipts to generate fake evidence against the family. Ms. Ismail further tweeted that the police refused access to medication and clothing to Mr. Ismail when her mother wanted to give it to Mr. Ismail in the police station and told her, “He is not in the police station.” Ms. Ismail also reported the raids on her relatives’ houses in her village. In September 2020, Pakistani authorities had 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. On February 15, 2021, an anti-terrorism court in Peshawar denied bail to ailing and elderly professor Mohammad Ismail.


  • February 2021, authorities sealed the office of MQM (Pakistan) and seized sound-system over songs honoring banned and Self-exiled founder Altaf Hussain. Mr. Hussain remained kingmaker for three decades, and his party Muhajir Qumi Movement (MQM) ruled the largest city of Pakistan, Karachi; however, his party abused the public support and profit from racketeering, extortion, and brutally killed party turncoats and opponents. He challenged the status quo and sent the middle-class into the parliament; however, he changed his party from Muhajir Movement to Muttahida (united) movement. During his heydays, political leaders like Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif sought Mr. Hussain's help to form the Federal Government and succeeded. Mr. Hussain now faces sedition charges and media black-out in Pakistan. In 1992, the para-military forces attacked MQM, killed the activists in extra-judicial killings, thousands were thrown in jails, and offices bulldozed. According to MQM, more than 18,000 workers were killed extra-judicially. Mr. Hussain and his followers are the descendants of the migrants who immigrated to Pakistan in 1947 after the British retreat from India and Pakistan. 


  • January 2021, reporter Malik Ehtisham and cameraman Munawar Abbasi working for a local newspaper, Qaumi Lalkar daily claimed unidentified armed men briefly kidnapped them for carrying the copies of the newspaper containing land mafia activities in Islamabad.   


  • ​​January 2021, Public News fired anchor Adnan Haider. Senior journalists and media insights believed that the action was taken after a show participant Imran Riaz Khan’s allegation leveled against Army Chief and land-mafia links in Pakistan. Public news and the military have not yet commented. Later, the pro-government leaning Imran Riaz Khan backtracked his grave allegations of Army Chief's relative links with the land-grabbers, however, Mr. Haider has not been reinstated.


  • January 2021, the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) activists attacked and injured privately-owned channel ARY News crew during the coverage of PDM public meetings in Malakand, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province. In the video clip released by the ARY News, the crew is taking cover in the DSNG van. The PDM is the coalition of the opposition parties asking for premature resignation from Prime Minister Imran Khan. The ARY News is a pro-government channel. 


  • January 21, defense lawyers with three men Raja Arshad, Noman Khokhar, and Raja Hashim,  indicted for the murder of Barrister Fahad Malik, attacked and brutally injured privately-owned Geo News cameraman Nasir Mughal. Mr. Mughal was attacked in the presence of police while filming the accused departure from the court.


  • January 2021, resident editor Pakistan Press International (PPI) Imad Zafar reported via tweeter his kidnapping, assault, torture, and police refusal to register a report on the pretext of no physical marks. The police did not comment on the allegations. 


  • January 2021, authorities in Balochistan province stopped Pashtun rights activist and member of beleaguered Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM) Sanna Ejaz (سیاله) from the inauguration of a girl’s library and forced her out of the area of Zhob. 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. 


  • December 2020, attackers injured investigative TV show SareAam host Iqrar ul Hassan in Lahore. The police made arrests, but the host pardoned the suspects. The motive of the attack remained unknown. TV show SareAam is aired on privately-owned TV channel ARY News, and Mr. Hassan TV show SareAam is controversially known for undercover operations exposing social malpractices. It is the second attack on Mr. Hassan within a year. In July 2020, Mr. Hassan had also pardoned the policemen who attacked him during his covert operation in the police station.   


  • December 2020, attackers attacked the office of a privately-owned channel Abb Takk and injured Sukkur bureau chief Imdad Pholphoto and journalist Altaf Kalorr in Sukkur, Province of Sindh. The journalists have been instrumental in exposing corruption; however, the story that resulted in the attack was not known. The police have arrested the suspects nominated in the police report. 


  • December 2020, unidentified attackers fired rockets at the house of journalist Fazal Karim in Parachinar, part of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province. There were no reports of damage and injuries. The motive of the attack remained unknown. 


  • December 2020, police arrested beleaguering Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM) Member of the National Assembly (MNA) Ali Wazir and other activists Noor Tareen, Sher Ayub Hussain, and Basirullah over allegations of insulting and derogatory remarks against national institutions and the military. 


  • December 2020, Pakistani authorities booked social media activist and vocal critic Ahmad Waqass Goraya over insulting the military. Mr. Goraya lives in the Netherlands.


  • December 2020, digital media platform voicepk.net reported that Model Town (Lahore) police physically assaulted two of its journalists in the police station. The journalists were asking for a copy of the police report filed against an entertainer and political worker, Muhammad Asif, known as DJ Butt. Mr. Butt has later been released on bail.​


  • October 2020, after a fierce social media backlash and protests, authorities admitted the custody of journalist and activist Bayazid Khan Kharoti after eight hours of his enforced disappearance in Quetta, Balochistan. Mr. Kharoti filed a police case alleging Balochistan Chief Minister Jam Mir Kamal Khan Alyani was behind his kidnapping and handed over to the local police after social media pressure. 


  • October 20020, Journalist Umair Solangi, reported via his verified Twitter account that on October 21, 2020, Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) cybercrime wing raided his house without a warrant in Karachi and later detained him for over seven hours. The police also seized Mr. Umair and his mother’s phone and threatening the journalist with planting a case against him. ​


  • 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. Later, Mr. Imran disclosed the kidnappers sedated and interrogated him at an unknown location; however, the journalist did not speak about the concerns of interrogation. 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. 


  • 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.


ENFORCED DISAPPEARANCES - May 2020 – May 2021,Timeline


  • March 2021, internet-based The Balochistan Post reported the enforced disappearances of four Baloch men from the different parts of the turbulent Balochistan province. The website alleged the security forces behind the kidnappings of Ayaz Bangulzai, Jan Beg Rind, Sultan Rind, and Ghulam Mustafa. 


  • March 2021, Baloch and rights activists reported the kidnapping of a Baloch student, Naveed Qadeer from Quetta, the provincial capital of turbulent Balochistan. According to the reports, Mr. Qadeer is a final-year student of the Bachelors of Science (BS) in Mining Engineering at the University of the Engineering and Technology (UET), Lahore campus.


  • March 2021, just ten days apart, tortured dead bodies of two missing persons found in Pakistan. The body of the Awami National Party (ANP) Balochistan spokesperson Asad Khan Achakzai recovered from Noshar, Quetta. Mr. Achakzai was reported missing in September 2020. Construction workers found the dead body of another missing person Muhammad Salam in North Waziristan, part of the North Waziristan (KP) province. Unidentified persons had kidnapped Mr. Salam in 2007.  


  • January 2021, A group of unknown individuals kidnapped advocate Hammad Saeed Dar from his house in Tarnol, Punjab. Mr. Dar was recovered after the Islamabad High Court (IHC) sent notices to high ranking police officers and Interior Ministry officials. Mr. Dar informed the judge that kidnappers seized his communication devices, blindfolded, and kept him in the room. The motive of the kidnapping remained unknown.  


  • December 2020, police found the dead body of a man named Shahid alias Kaleem in Karachi. Mr. Shahid’s wife informed the media that her husband was an activist of the Muttahida Qumi Movement (MQM) and kidnapped five years ago. His disappearance petition is pending in the Sindh High Court. Mr. Shahid’s body had severely tortured marks of electrocutions and head injury. Hundreds of MQM activists were kidnapped and brutally killed by rival groups and law enforcement agencies. Pakistan banned the party chief Altaf Hussain's speeches in Pakistan because of his strong critics to the governments and LAEs. Mr. Hussain had self-exiled to the U.K. From the mid-80s to the mid-90s, MQM remained one of the most powerful political parties in Sindh, representing the middle-class section of people. The succeeding provincial and central leadership frequently visited party headquarter known as 90.  ​


  • November 2020, Progressive Youth Alliance (PYA), a student movement for education reform in Pakistan, reported the abduction of its activist Amar Fayaz from Jamshoro, Sindh. The PYA alleged law enforcement agencies LEAs for the abduction. 


  • 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.


MINORITIES | BLASPHEMY - May 2020 – May 2021,Timeline


  • April 2021, a charged mob attacked and partially damaged a mosque belongs to the persecuted Muslim Ahmadiyya (Ahmadi) minority in Muzaffargarh, part of the Punjab province. The Ahmadiyya community members called the police but the attackers continued demolishing the minarets and entrance in police presence. Instead of taking action against the attackers, the police arrested five members of the Ahmadiyya community. 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. Ahmadiyya community is not allowed to call their worship place as masjid (mosque) likewise rest of the Muslims.


  • April 2021, local police rescued two minority Christian females, a nurse Mariyum Masih and a student Arooj Masih from a mob attack at the District Headquarters (DHQ) Hospital, Faisalabad, the part of the Punjab province. The mob had gathered after the allegations that the accused females removed a holy sticker from a cupboard. The police booked both females for blasphemy under Section 295-B of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC). Christian nurses are the lifeline of the Pakistani healthcare system.


  • March 2021, influentials kidnapped and allegedly raped a 15-year-old minority Hindu girl Rani Meghwar Chachro, in Tharparkar district, part of the Sindh province. The kidnappers also kidnapped her father for filing a police report. This is the second time Rani Meghwar kidnapped and allegedly raped. Sindh province is ruled by the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), largely consisting of wealthy landowners with political inheritance. PPP vehemently protects the Bhutto family and the vested interests of its members while people continue to beg for clean water, medical, transportation, jobs, security, and cleanliness. Mian Abdul Haq, commonly known as "Mian Mitthu," is the ringleader of forced marriages and forced conversions of underage minority girls in the Sindh province also belongs to the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP).  Each year, as many as 700 Hindu and Christian minor girls are kidnapped in Pakistan, while many cases remain underreported. In most of the cases, the court rulings side with the kidnappers as police collude with the kidnappers, and the majority of the victims belong to the underprivileged families. 


  • March 2021, Taqi Shah, a minority Shia scholar axed to death over blasphemy allegations in Jhang, part of the Punjab province. The police arrested the suspect, and the District Police Officer (DPO) confirmed the blasphemy allegations as the motive for the killing. Mr. Shah was already facing blasphemy charges and a case was registered against him in 2019.


  • March 2021, the Lahore High Court admitted a petition seeking a death sentence for a minority Christian man Mr. Sajjad Masih Gill, who is in jail since 2013. Mr. Gill is in jail for sending a text message that was arbitrarily taken as blasphemy. Religious fanatics attacked Mr. Gill's family in the past and now they fear for their lives.


  • March 2021, religious fanatics accused a freethinker, poet, and intellectual Amar Jaleel of blasphemy over an altered and misconstrued video of his lecture.


  • March 2021, unknown kidnappers kidnapped a 13-year-old minority Christian girl and forced her into a marriage with a Muslim man. Instead of charging for kidnapping and rape, the local police merely informed the victim’s parents Johnson Masih and his wife Samina about her marriage and converting to Islam. The police handed the parents a marriage certificate issued and generated in a local mosque and the parents have been denied access to their daughter. The parents had filed a missing report weeks ago. The crime took place in Okara, the province of Punjab. 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. 


  • March 2021, families and rights activists protested the kidnapping and forced conversion to Islam of two Hindu girls, 13-year-old Kavita and Arti Kumari in Kandhkot, a remote part of the Sindh province. The family alleged Pir Abdul Haq, alias Mian Mithu, as the conspirator behind the forced-conversion. However, Mr. Mithu insisted the girls willingly converted to Islam. 


  • March 2021, religious fundamentalists attacked, desecrated, and partially damaged a mosque belonging to the persecuted Muslim-minority Ahmadiyya community in Gujranwala, the Punjab province.   


  • February 2021, Lahore police booked two Christian men Salamat and Haroon over blasphemy allegations for reading Bible in a park. The Religious vigilantes had alleged the men for preaching.  


  • February 2021, a 16-year-old shot dead Abdul Qadir In his clinic in volatile Peshawar, the part of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan. Mr. Qadir belonged to one of the most persecuted Muslim Ahmadiyya (Ahmadi) community of Pakistan. The police have confirmed the killing as a hate crime based on religious hatred.   


  • February 2021, high tech giants Google and Apple surrendered to the demands of the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) and deactivate seven applications over blasphemy allegations. The apps were developed by the persecuted Muslim Ahmadiyya minority expatriates.  


  • January 2021, Co-workers attacked and injured a Christian nurse and gospel singer Tabeeta Nazir Gill over blasphemy allegations, and police detained her for days over blasphemy after a charged mob gathered at the police station in Karachi.


  • January 2021, police arrested a Christian pastor Raja Waris over one of his social media posts on blasphemy allegations in Charrar, Lahore. Hundreds of Christian families living in the neighborhoods had to run for safety after possible extremist attacks.  


  • January 2021, a court in the capital city of Islamabad sentenced three men Nasir Ahmed, Abdul Waheed, and Rana Noman to death over what the court believed was “blasphemous contents” on social media under sections 295-A, 295-C of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) and Section G-7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA). The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) told the court that Rana Noman and Abdul Waheed generated fake profiles to spread blasphemous contents, while Nasir Ahmed posted blasphemous material on Youtube.


  • January 2021, a court in the capital city of Islamabad sentenced Professor Anwaar Ahmed to 10 years imprisonment and a hefty fine of Rs 100,000. The court construed his critical opinions on religion during lectures, are blasphemous. Mr. Ahmed is a lecturer at the Islamabad Model College.  


  •  January 2021, Rimal Ali, a transgender model and dancer was attacked and had her head shaved in Lahore. Ali told media of receiving life-threats, and the known attacker was forcing the subject to stop the show business career.​


  • January 2021, heavily armed unidentified assailants kidnapped eleven Muslim-Minority, Shia-Hazara coal miners and killed them from a very close range in Quetta, Balochistan. Terrorist group ISIL (ISIS) claimed the execution-style killings on its news agency known as “Amag.” ISIL released a picture of the group members with dead bodies and the group’s flag in the background. Over the past five years, more than 600 members of the Shia – Hazara community killed in the troubled province of Balochistan for their faith.


  • December 2020, the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) sent a legal notice to the persecuted Muslim minority Ahmadiyya United States office-bearers Amjad Mahmood Khan and Harris Zafar to take down the community website TrueIslam.com. The PTA said "the site violates Pakistan’s blasphemy and cybercrimes laws," and warned the men of fines up to US$3.14 million and or 10-year-prison sentences. Though the website is registered in the USA and Mr. Khan and Mr. Zafar are US nationals, they now face imminent risks from authorities, vigilantes, and mob to visit Pakistan to meet relatives and friends.


  • December 2020, a charged mob of an estimated 1,500 extremists led by local Muslim clerics set Shri Paramhans Ji Maharaj Samadhi, a Hindu temple, on fire that caused significant damage to the premises. The Muslims were angered over the renovation of the temple that was built after fulfilling all the legalities. The temple was also attacked in 1997. The incident happened in Karak, part of the province of Khyber Pakthunkhwa (KP), and the police arrested dozens of suspects and clerics. 


  • November 2020, a local court in Faisal Abad (province of Punjab) dismissed the petition of a minority Christian man Asif Masih, pleading for the recovery of his 13-year-old daughter Farah Shaheen’s kidnapping, forced conversion & marriage to a 45-year-old Muslim man, Khizer Hayat. Khizer Hayat kidnapped Farah Shaheen on June 25, 2020, but the police registered a case on September 19, 2020, after court orders. In February 2021, the court annulled the marriage and allowed Farah Shaheen to go with her parents.  


  • November 2020, unidentified vandals vandalized a minority Hindu Temple in the impoverished Lyari area in Karachi. The vandals desecrated and damaged religious depictions and objects.   


  • November 20, 2020, the minority Hindu community reported the abduction of a 14-year-old girl Sonia Kumari from kandhkot, part of the Sindh province. The community believed the motive of the unidentified kidnappers is forced conversion and marriage.


  • October 2020, the provincial Punjab Public Service Commission (PPSS) refused a female lecturer job to a transgender individual named Fayyaz, now known as Faizi. The official letter mentions the reason for the denial of Faizi's gender. the letter states, "the higher education department has requisitioned the posts only for male and female, whereas transgender candidates are not eligible for subject post."


  • October 2020, a security guard shot dead Malik Imran Hanif, the manager of the National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) in Khushab, the Punjab province, over blasphemy allegations. Vigilantes celebrated the killings, and the killer admitted the murder. Religious extremism has increased many folds in Pakistan as the government continues to support and sympathize with religious extremists.  


  • October 2020, a 44-year-old man kidnapped a 13-year-old minority Christian girl Arzoo Masih, and forced her into marriage in Karachi. Police case had been registered after public backlash and protest in front of the Karachi Press Club. Later, a local court validated the marriage disregarding the official documents proving that the girl is underaged. After fierce backlash on social media, the Federal Government intervened, and the victim has been sent to a shelter.            


  • 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. 


  • September 2020, the minority Hindu community reported the abduction of a 14-year-old Hindu girl Parsha Kumari from Khairpur, part of the Sindh province. The family of the victim has identified the kidnappers in the police report. The family informed the police that the kidnapper has forcibly converted the girl to Islam and married her. 


  • 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. 

CENSORSHIPS | FINES - May 2020 – May 2021,Timeline


  • April 2021, Pakistan Telecom Authority (PTA) asked microblogging and social networking service Twitter to block criticism towards the judiciary in Pakistan. Pakistani courts, including the Supreme Court of Pakistan,  face immense criticism over what critics believe is “selective justice.”


  • April 2021, Pakistan’s National Assembly Standing Committee on Interior passed an amendment bill that made criticizing the armed forces a punishable crime for up to two years in jail and a fine of Rs500,000. The ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) lawmaker Amjad Ali Khan, had tabled the bill. 


  • March 2021, the Peshawar High Court banned TikTok, a short-length video-sharing social networking platform on the allegation that the contents and uploads are “unacceptable for Pakistani society,” and negatively affecting the youths. According to the court orders, the censorship shall remain in place until TikTok strictly follows the guidelines set by the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA). TikTok was also blocked in October 2020. Pakistan telecommunication watchdog, Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has admitted in the court blocking approximately 500,000 TikTok videos over objectionable pretexts. The Peshawar High Court (PHC) restored TikTok on April 1, 2021. 

   

  •  February 2021, Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) ordered privately-owned TVOne to follow censorship guidelines for the TV show "Dil Na Umeed Toh Nahi," and demanded the details of the editorial board.

 

  • February 2021, February 2021, a Jirga (a group of authoritarian men in deep-rooted conservative pockets) stopped women from receiving child care payments from the Citizen Facilitation Center (CFC) and calling local FM Radio stations in Bajaur District, part of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. According to Jirga, either the grants were meant to be given to the men or the CFC staff to be all women. The Jirga announced fines for the locals who defy the Jirga policy. The area has been a hotbed and stronghold of Taliban activities. The local jirgas misogynistic decisions and restrictions of freedom signify the reality that the Taliban and their supporters openly defy the Federal Government and capable of launching offensives against citizens. 


  • January 2021, the Pakistan Electronic Media Authority Regulatory Authority (Pemra) suspended the license of the privately-owned channel Bol News and fined Rs 1 million for what PEMRA believed airing "contemptuous" remarks against the judges of the Lahore High Court (LHC). On January 13, 2021, the anchorperson Sami Ibrahim debated the appointment of the judges in LHC in his show Tajzia.


  • January 2021, BBC announced the termination of the broadcasting Urdu news program Sairbeen contract with privately-owned AAJ TV. The 30-minute daily news bulletin was on air since 2015. The termination is the outcome of the unprecedented censorship and assaults on media freedom in Pakistan, while BBC termed it “interference.”


  • January 2021, the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) asked social media platforms to block the movie Lady of Heaven. The PTA termed the movie sacrilegious and said, “so far 336 URLs containing promo of the said movie have been reported to different platforms.”


  • January 2021, the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) suspended free WiFi service in Punjab province. The free WiFi was largely used by the poverty-stricken students, people, public places, Lahore Press Club, colleges, and universities. The government defended its decision by saying that the project was resulting in heavy financial losses.    


  • ·December 2020, Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) issued Notices to Google Inc and Wikipedia over allegations of disseminating sacrilegious content through the platforms.  According to PTA, "the action was taken after numerous complaints of blasphemous and misleading information about Islam and sacred personalities of Islam." 


  • October 2020, Pakistan banned the 10-episode web series Churails (witches). Due to the unprecedented censorship in Pakistan, neighboring Indian video-on-demand (VoD) platform Zee5 streamed Pakistani-origin series depicting lead women characters challenging patriarchal status quo and repression towards women. The Pakistani fundamentalists demanded the ban after leaked footage on social media. The Indian Zee5 ceased the streaming of Churails but later restored for the show. Within weeks, the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) banned all online payments for Indian contents.       


  • 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, Pakistan Electronic Media (PEMRA) banned Gala Biscuit ad featuring superstar Mehwish Hayat. PEMRA declared the biscuit ad as indecent. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CcziQEnD0PQ


  • 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.


POLITICAL PARTIES ATTACKS ON FREEDOM OF SPEECH AND FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION - May 2020 – May 2021,Timeline


  • April 2021, Pakistan’s National Assembly Standing Committee on Interior passed an amendment bill that made criticizing the armed forces a punishable crime for up to two years in jail and a fine of Rs500,000. The ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) lawmaker Amjad Ali Khan, had tabled the bill.


  • February 2021, Saifullah Jan, a correspondent for the Associated Press (AP) in Pakistan, and a member of the Charsadda Press Club alleged that four armed men kidnapped and tortured him in the area office of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), in Charsadda, part of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province. According to Mr. Jan, he has been targeted in the past and the attack is retaliation for his filing of the police report. One of the accused Abdullah is the office-bearer of the local settings of PTI. PTI has not refuted the allegations.


  • November 2020, Maria Memon, a journalist and host of a privately-owned channel ARY News show Sawaal Ye Hai (this is the question) tweeted on November 15, 2020 (@Maria_Memon) that Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) activists harassed, pushed, and hackled the ARY crew while covering Gilgit Baltistan (GB) elections. ARY News is the pro-government while the PPP is the opposition party.


  • November 2020, the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) awarded a lawyer Naeem Bukhari, the position of the Chairman of State-owned Pakistan Television (PTV). Mr. Bukhari has been a close aide and a lawyer to Prime Minister Imran Khan and an affiliate with PTI. Soon after his selection, Mr. Bukhari announced that the PTV does not belong to the political opponents and intensified the ban on media coverage of the opposition. Weeks later, a local court stopped Mr. Bukhari from the chairmanship, and then, the Federal Cabinet removed him from his post.  


  • 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 female journalists and rights activists signed a joint statement against online threats and trolls committed by the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), its affiliates, and activists.Read Statement.


  • 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).


FREEDOM OF SPEECH AND FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION UNDER ATTACK ON CAMPUSES - May 2020 – May 2021,Timeline


  • April 2021, the Islamia University in Bahawalpur (IUB) expelled at least four students for protesting over reductions of seats, scholarships, and facilities for the marginalized students belonging to the under-developed regions of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and Balochistan province.


  • March 2021, mainstream media overlooked protests and encampments outside the province Punjab Governor House over the abolition of the scholarships for the students belonging to the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). Islamia University in Bahawalpur (IUB) Punjab has abolished the seats and scholarship allocation meant for FATA students. After a month-long protest and five days of hunger strike, the Governor of Punjab restored the scholarships.


  • March 2021, under enormous pressure from authorities, Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) and Quaid-i-Azam University (QAU) canceled a seminar recalling fifty years of the Bangladesh freedom (known as Dhaka Fall) from Pakistan. The universities did not provide reasons for cancellation.


  • March 2021, the Kohat University of Science and Technology (KUST) enforced a strict Islamic dress-code for female students and faculty in Kohat, part of the ultra-conservative province of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP).


  • March 2021, student Abdul Haq was killed and five more wounded in violent clashes among different student factions at the National University of Modern Languages (NUML). Pakistani educational institutions are facing increased intolerance for the students coming from the other parts of the country.


  • March 2021, the University of Peshawar made the Islamic dress code mandatory for female students. The female students ordered to wear white shalwar (loose-leggings) and drooping uppers with a scarf.  


  • March 2021, the University of Lahore expelled a male and a female student over on-campus hugging. In a widely circulated and verified footage, a female student kneeled and offered a rose to a male student, who then hugged the female student while other students burst into cheers. The University alleged the occurrence as a violation of the University’s code of conduct. However, the University did not provide a copy of the written rules.


  • February 2021, the University of Central Punjab (UCP) barred 19 students from final examinations and academic activities for protesting against the physical-presence in exams during the pandemic. According to UCP, “the suspension will last till the conclusion of disciplinary proceedings.”


  • January 2021, Bacha Khan University in conservative Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province enforced a religious Islamic dress code for faculty, male and female students.


  • January 2021, within a week, police attacked, injured, and briefly detained at least 49 students of the National University of Modern Languages (NUML), University of Management and Technology (UTM), and the University of Central Punjab (UCP) in different cities of the Punjab province for protesting over on-campus exams during the COVID19 surge, better dorm facilities, tuition fee & internet disruptions.


  • January 2021, the Hazara University Abbottabad enforced a strict Islamic dress code for female students and staff and banned jeans, T-shirts, tights, and heavy makeup. The University made Abaya (loose head-to-toe upper body cover) mandatory for females. The University also banned males from wearing tight and ripped jeans and male jewelry.


  • November 2020, the administration of the Bahauddin Zakaria University in Multan canceled a scheduled talk of the educationist and students right activist Ammar Ali Jan on climate change after a group of the students branded him as anti-state. Unprecedented censorship on freedom of expression and free thinking has many educational institutions cancel and fire the liberal educationists. In 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. In 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.


  • 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. In February 2021, authorities dropped all charges against Ammar Ali Jan.


  • 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.


SNIPPETS - May 2020 – May 2021 Timeline 





  • March 2021, Transparency International (TI) sent a letter to Prime Minister Imran Khan over COVID vaccine cost, possibilities of corruption and also reminded him that free vaccination is the government's responsibility. 



  • March 2021, the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) allocated a whopping Rs1 billion for the publicity of the economic reforms and counter the opposition. Many essential needs in Pakistan are put on hold due to the economic crisis. COVID vaccine is unaffordable for millions of Pakistanis, widespread poverty, and hundreds of Federal and provincial departments owe monthslong salaries and retirement benefits to their employees. The prices of food essentials, power, and patrol are increasing by leaps and bounds.


  • March 2021, Salahuddin Ayubi, a member of the Pakistan National Assembly (MNA) representing the constituency of Kila Abdullah, NA-263 (province of the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa – KP) married a 14-year-old High School girl student. The marriage violates the law of the province where the legal age of marriage for the girls is 16 years. Mr. Ayubi belongs to Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F).





  • February 2021, police used tear gas, truncheons, and anti-terrorism squad against government employees and lady health workers protesting for a pay-raise in the capital city of Islamabad. One on-duty police officer died of inhalation. Later, the government agreed to the demands of the protesters; however, Sheikh Rasheed Ahmad, the Interior Minister of Pakistan ridiculed, smirked at the protesters, and defended the use of tear gas by saying, “we were just testing the tear gas.”




  • January 2021, police attacked and injured at least 18 and arrested more than a dozen teachers in the Pakistani-controlled side of Kashmir. The teachers were peacefully protesting a pay-raise they were promised in 2013. Pakistani side of Kashmir has been nicknamed Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) by Pakistan.  


  • December 2020, the UK's Office of Communications (Ofcom), the government-approved regulatory and competition authority for the broadcasting, imposed a fine of £20,000 on the Indian TV show "Poochta Hai Bharat" hosted by Arnab Goswami. According to Ofcom, Mr. Goswami and some participant's comments in his show aired on September 6, 2019, categorized as hate speech, derogatory and abusive towards Pakistani people.


  • ​December 2020, the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) used one of its verified Twitter accounts @PTIOfficialLHR to publish a list of pro-government and journalists critical to the government. The tweet was sent on December 2, 2020.

  • November 2020, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) and Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) filed a petition with the Islamabad High Court for revoking Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) ban for airing speeches of the proclaimed offenders and absconders. Plaintiffs included several senior and mainstream journalists and human rights activists vexed over the unprecedented censorships and assaults on press freedom, freedom of speech, and expression. Many of the petitioners withdrew their names after partisanship concerns and growing notion of supporting the leader of the opposition.  

  • October 2020, the provincial Punjab police attacked, arrested, teargassed, and used a hazardous chemical mixture of water against peasants and farmers peacefully protesting for better payouts for their crops. The record-breaking high prices of fertilizers and farming accessories have made it impossible to sell the crops to the government at the current rate. Two protesters, Ashfaq Langriyal and Dalbeer Khan, succumbed to their injuries in the hospital.  

  • October 2020, journalists, unions, and media groups protested across the country organized by the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ against diminishing press freedom, freedom of expression, massive layoffs, and unpaid wages. The participants alleged the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) for unprecedented censorship, fascist policies, controlled media, and disregarding the constitutional rights. 

  • 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.


Development(s)


In August 2020, the senate standing committee on information and broadcasting passed The Press Council of Pakistan Amendment Bill 2020, which abolished the mandatory appointment of a retired Supreme Court judge as to the chairperson and now enables journalists for the chairperson position. The new amendment authorized Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) to implement fair job contracts among media houses and journalists. In February 2021 a pro bono legal aid, "Journalists Defence Committee of the Pakistan Bar Council (PBCJDC)" was created in collaboration with the Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) and the Journalists Defence Committee (JDC). In 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 members from the Senate and the National Assembly.


​2016 - 2021 http://www.freedomtalk.net/ All rights reserved

 

SUMMARY OF VIOLATIONS


May 2020 – May 2021: Ten journalists have been killed, independent investigation, family statements, and police report did not establish directs links between murders and reporting or journalistic responsibilities, but even so, they were all raising their voices and reporting on critical and dangerous issues. . Scroll down for a complete timeline.

  • At least 52 occurrences of assaults, Arrests, and harassments related to Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Expression, and Minorities compared to 41 incidents in the corresponding period of last year. Scroll down for a complete timeline 


  • At least 19 occurrences of Enforced Disappearances and Missing persons compared to 29 incidents in the corresponding period of last year while many cases were not reported. Scroll down for a complete timeline  


  • At least 55 occurrences of forced marriages, forced conversions, and Blasphemy against Muslims and non-Muslim minorities compared to 26 incidents in the corresponding period of last year while many cases were not reported. Scroll down for a complete timeline  


  • At least 36 occurrences of Censorship and Fines to suppress Press Freedom, Freedom of Speech, and Freedom of Expression compared to 64 incidents in the corresponding period of last year. Scroll down for a complete timeline  


  • At least 23 attacks committed by 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 compared to 17 occurrences in the corresponding period of last year. The ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) remained the top attacker with 20 violations - the third year in a row. Scroll down for a complete timeline  


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


OVERVIEW

Unparalleled chaos prevailed in Pakistan and rampant attacks on freedom of speech and freedom of expression continued throughout the year. Ten journalists, including a woman, were killed for multiple reasons ranging from family disputes to reporting on social issues. Authorities widely and arbitrarily used censorship, arrests, short-term enforced disappearances, and sedition charges against media, anchors, journalists, rights activists, critics, and internet freedom dropped drastically. In July 2020, the Supreme Court of Pakistan (SC) ruled that the anti-graft court of Pakistan, known as the National Accountability 

CONTENTS


OVERVIEW


ASSAULTS | ARRESTS | HARASSMENTS


ENFORCED DISAPPEARANCES

  • Tortured bodies of missing persons


MINORITIES | BLASPHEMY

  • Incumbents’ leanings towards religious fundamentalists
  • Murders over blasphemy allegations
  • Forced marriages and conversions 
  • Transgender community
  • Attacks on minority Shia Muslims 
  • National Commission for Minorities (NCM)


CENSORSHIPS | BANS | FINES

  • Censorship on Books and contents


POLITICAL PARTIES ATTACKS ON FREEDOM OF SPEECH AND FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION


FREEDOM OF SPEECH AND FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION UNDER ATTACK ON CAMPUSES

COVID-19


RIGHTS MOVEMENTS AND DISSENTS

  • Plight of the Ismail family
  • Aurat March
  • Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM)
  • Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM)


 TIMELINES 

  • Killings 
  • Assaults, Arrests & Harassments
  • Enforced Disappearances  
  • Minorities & Blasphemy 
  •  Censorships & Fines 
  • Political Parties attacks of Freedom of Speech & Expression 
  • Freedom of Speech & Expression under Attack on Campuses 
  • Snippets & Developments  

FreedomTalk  

Monitors Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Expression in Pakistan