December 06, 2019
The members of the global Executive Board of the International Press Institute (IPI) are appalled by death threats made against fellow IPI Executive Board member and Dawn Editor Zaffar Abbas as well as the paper’s CEO Hamid Haroon during demonstrations outside the offices of the news organization.
On December 3 protestors laid siege to Dawn’s Islamabad office, with similar protests following outside the Karachi Press Club and Dawn’s offices in that city. Demonstrators carried banners branding Mr. Haroon and Mr. Abbas as “traitors” and demanding that they be hanged.
The demonstrations followed strong criticism of Dawn on social media by political leaders in Pakistan for its coverage of the recent London Bridge attack in which it described the attacker as a person of Pakistani origin.
"We are deeply shocked and outraged over these events, which seriously endanger the safety of journalists working at Dawn and which lay bare the growing and apparently politically motivated intolerance toward independent journalism in Pakistan."
“Dawn has been a bastion of independent journalism for over seven decades and it is the responsibility of Pakistan’s government to guarantee the safety of its journalists. We call on all political leaders in Pakistan to immediately refrain from any actions that may appear to encourage or condone attacks on the press,” the IPI said.
This latest incident, as well as recent attacks against other news organizations, come amid ongoing, well-documented repression of independent voices and intimidation of journalists in the country, which is undermining the free flow of information necessary to democracy.
Attacks such as this week’s threats against Dawn seriously breach democratic norms and must never be tolerated. We therefore call on the Pakistani authorities to immediately open an investigation into these incidents and bring to justice all those responsible for the death threats to Mr. Abbas and Mr. Haroon.
IPI, the global network of editors, media executives and leading journalists for press freedom, stands firmly behind Dawn and its journalists. — An IPI press release
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