GILGIT, Nov 18: Human rights and journalist organizations have expressed concern over increasing incidents aimed at harassing journalists to stop them from performing their professional duties.
In a statement, Gilgit Union of Journalists said government officials were using state powers as well as resources to pressure mediapersons in order to conceal their own wrongdoings.
It said notices were being served on journalists in order to pressure them.
A local journalist, Zulfiqar Ali, was served with a notice by district council member Raja Shehbaz after he tried to expose some deals he had allegedly made under the table. Coordinator Human Rights Organisation Israruddin condemned the move, adding elements who wanted to pressure journalists would not succeed in their mission.
The statement demanded that the federal government should order a probe into the matter and protect the mediapersons.
The journalists union also said that despite non-bailable warrant issued by the apex court of Northern Areas the police had not produced an ex-SSP Gilgit, Pervez Ahmed Chandio, before the court in a journalist torture case. Orignal at DAWN & Daily Asia Media
Editor’s note: Further adding to the story, Zulfiqar Ali Khan, coordinator and moderator of PT a correspondent of prestigious English daily newspaper for Hunza region, received a legal notice, sent on behalf of Shehbaz Khan, MDC Gilgit, which demanded a sum of PKR five million (50 Lacs) for ‘damaging’ the reputation of the said member.
The notice is based on a news published on Pamir News Blog in the month of February 2008, which reported the high handedness of the police officials, in the wake of an alleged break-in at the house of Shehbaz Khan. The news reported common sentiments held by residents of the the region, with regards to the said elected member. It also condemned the alleged break-in. Police interrogation brought nothing out and the accused who had been arrested on the order of Shehbaz were released within a couple of days, after mounting public pressure.
Innocent young men of the village were arrested on suspicion by the police and tortured in the police station for a couple of days. A large number of the residents of the village termed this as a ‘tactic’ to pressurize the youth and force them into silence against mismanagement of funds, corruption and nepotism. Pamir News reported the public sentiments, as they were, and still are!!
The legal notice says that Shehbaz has faced ‘mental and physical torture’ because of words like ‘controversial political figure’.
Zulfiqar has been asked to either pay rupees five million or apologize, unconditionally, in three consecutive posts on Pamir News Blog.
We consider this to be yet another tactic aimed at creating hindrances for efforts of Pamir Times for creating an informed and vibrant civil society in Gojal and Hunza Valley, in particular, and Gilgit-Baltistan, in general. We appreciate the comments by Human Rights Coordinator Israr Udin Israr.
The hundreds of comments of appreciation from our readers are a testimony of our devotion, objectivity and determination to appreciate good steps, expose flaws in the society and help the government and the state in creation of an environment where plurality of views are appreciated and solutions are generated.
We completely support the efforts of Zulfiqar Ali Khan and would request other young professionals to similarly devote their time and energy for reforming our imperfect society, in the face of old systems of oppression.
Team Pamir Times