August 06, 2020
ISLAMABAD-Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) has set up a six-member committee to investigate the recent abduction of Matiullah Jan in Islamabad and to monitor the progress of police investigation.
The union will become a party in Matiullah’s contempt of court case to the extent of interpretation of Article 19 of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.
Senior-most journalist M. Ziauddin heads the committee with Munizae Jehangir, Nasir Malick, Fauzia Shahid, Asmatullah Niazi, and Asif Bashir Chaudhry, its members. The chairman is authorized to set up any sub-committee and, if required, include more members from the civil society.
The decision to form the committee follows PFUJ’s concern over the increasing incidents of beatings and kidnapping of journalists apparently by the intelligence agencies in an attempt to muzzle free speech in Pakistan.
Unidentified men kidnapped Matiullah on July 21 morning from G-6-1/3 apparently by a group of people wearing police uniforms, driving vehicles with police lights, and carrying arms. His abduction created an uproar in the media, which perhaps forced the kidnappers to release him the same evening after being tortured physically and mentally.
Two weeks ago, Anwar Jan Khetran, a journalist from the Barkhan area of Balochistan was brutally murdered.
Two years ago, The News reporter Ahmad Noorani was almost beaten to death, allegedly by the intelligence agencies a few yards away from the high-security zone close to ISI Headquarters in Islamabad.
It is no surprise that in all such cases of journalists’ beatings and kidnappings, no culprit has been arrested despite more than 2000 Safe City CCTV cameras installed across the federal capital.
A report submitted by the Islamabad Police on Wednesday to the Supreme Court of Pakistan in Matiullah Jan kidnapping case confirmed that neither NADRA was cooperating with the police nor geo fencing has been provided to the police investigators.
PFUJ said that there seemed to be some hidden hands stopping NADRA which is responsible for providing facial identification records and other departments for geo-fencing details to the investigating officials.
The PFUJ is also concerned over the severe implications of Matiullah’s contempt of court case on the fundamental right of Freedom of Expression guaranteed under Article 19 of the Constitution.
The PFUJ also noted with concern the strong remarks of the honorable judges of the Supreme Court in a case relating to social media. While the courts are considered to be the protectors of the fundamental rights of the people, such general observations by the honorable judges have not been well received by the civil society in general and journalists’ community in particular.
The PFUJ reaffirms its commitment to free speech and democracy in Pakistan and expresses its grave concern over the increasing pressure of the state institutions on the media houses and the unannounced censorship. The union reiterated that it would stand up against all these elements who want to silence the free press and the social media.
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