Pakistani journalists are facing a tough crackdown for voicing their criticism of the incumbent government. As a result, Senior anchorperson and investigative journalist Arshad Sharif has written a letter to President Dr. Arif Alvi, seeking the protection of his fundamental rights as an individual and journalist in general.
In the letter, Arshad Sharif highlighted the threats to the life and liberty of journalists and illegal attempts to stop them from exercising their rights and duties ensured by the Constitution of Pakistan.
“As a law-abiding citizen of Pakistan, I seek justice and protection law to ensure my fundamental rights and fundamental rights of journalists and place information about the grave threat to life and liberty to self and other journalists on the record,” Arshad Sharif wrote.
Letter to @ArifAlvi @PresOfPakistan to ensure protection of fundamental rights and protection to journalists in view of grave threat to life and liberty of journalists. @RanaSanaullahPK pic.twitter.com/X69SZE7FYG
— Arshad Sharif (@arsched) July 12, 2022
Furthermore, Arshad Sharif revealed in the letter that he had credible information about false charges being drafted against Pakistan’s leading journalists, and plans being made to kidnap or beat the journalists.
“Based on credible information from reliable sources I place it on record that discussions were held by certain “unscrupulous elements” to involve the undersigned in false, bogus, fabricated criminal cases; to kidnap and make enforced disappearance or to beat the undersigned and other journalists,” Arshad Sharif wrote.
“As per my credible sources, the same planning has allegedly been done against other journalists including Arif Hameed Bhatti, Imran Riaz Khan, Sami Ibrahim, Sabir Shakir, Siddique Jan, Dr Moeed Peerzada, Jameel Faruqi, and a few others,” he added as he revealed the names of journalists facing threats.
Tough time for journalists
Important to note that the incumbent government has faced a lot of resistance from the public ever since it forcefully came into power. It continues to receive intense backlash from the public. Many leading journalists have also criticized the government and its policies. However, it seems that the PML-N-led government is not taking kindly to the criticism as many journalists report being harassed and facing threats.
In fact recently, leading journalist Imran Riaz Khan – who is also the most vocal critic of PML-N – was arrested near the outskirts of Islamabad in connection with a “treason” case registered against him in Attock. To clarify, Imran Riaz has been implicated in a slew of cases that he says were motivated by his refusal to “stop speaking the truth”.
Interestingly, the Punjab police arrested Imran Khan disregarding the fact that a court had already granted him a pre-arrest bail. After days in custody, Imran Riaz Khan was released after the Attock court wrapped up his case and advised him against making any controversial statements.
In another case and prior to Imran Riaz’s arrest, senior journalist Ayaz Amir was brutally attacked by six unidentified men. It is unknown why the senior journalist was attacked however, there were speculations that Ayaz Amir was attacked due to his tacit reference to Army officers as property tycoons during a PTI seminar in Islamabad on the ‘Regime Change and its Fallout on Pakistan’.