Home Politics Journalist Gohar Wazir Abducted and Allegedly Tortured: Urgent Call for Investigation

Journalist Gohar Wazir Abducted and Allegedly Tortured: Urgent Call for Investigation

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Journalist Gohar Wazir Abducted and Allegedly Tortured: Urgent Call for Investigation

New York, May 2, 2023—In a distressing turn of events, Pakistani journalist Gohar Wazir has reportedly been abducted and subjected to severe torture, sparking urgent calls for an immediate and thorough investigation into the incident. The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has issued a statement on Tuesday condemning the abduction and demanding accountability for those responsible.

According to sources including news reports, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, and a confidential informant speaking to CPJ, the abduction took place at approximately 4 p.m. on April 19 in Bannu, northwest Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. Wazir, known for his work with the Pashto-language broadcaster Khyber News and as the head of the National Press Club Bannu journalists association, was forcefully taken by five unidentified individuals from a market.

Details reveal a harrowing ordeal for Wazir as he was driven to an undisclosed location, handcuffed, and confined in a dark bathroom. During his captivity, he endured electric shocks while being coerced into recording a video endorsing pro-government militants. It is reported that after approximately 30 hours, he was released in Bannu district with visible injuries from the electrocution.

Beh Lih Yi, CPJ’s Asia program coordinator, expressed grave concern over the incident, highlighting the apparent targeting of Wazir due to his journalistic endeavors focusing on human rights issues and militancy in tribal areas. Urging Pakistani authorities to swiftly investigate the abduction and allegations of torture, Yi emphasized the need to break the cycle of impunity surrounding violence against journalists.

Following his release, Wazir filed a complaint at the Bannu City Police Station and sought medical treatment for his injuries. Sources close to the case revealed Wazir’s belief that his abduction was in retaliation for his extensive reporting on human rights violations affecting Pashtun communities and militant activities in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

In the forced video statement, Wazir was coerced into praising the militants for their purported role in maintaining peace and stability, while also criticizing protests against security forces in the wake of a recent explosion in the Bannu district.

Despite Wazir’s complaint and the availability of security footage from the market where the abduction occurred, as of May 2, formal investigations had not commenced. This lack of action raises concerns about the safety and security of journalists operating in Pakistan.

This incident follows a previous detention of Wazir in 2019, during which he was held by Pakistani security officials after covering demonstrations by the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement.

The abduction and alleged torture of Gohar Wazir underscore the perilous conditions faced by journalists in Pakistan and the urgent need for authorities to uphold press freedom and ensure the safety of media professionals.

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