Home Media Pakistani Journalist Fayaz Zafar Detained, Accuses Police of Abuse; Amjad Ali Sahaab Faces Investigation

Pakistani Journalist Fayaz Zafar Detained, Accuses Police of Abuse; Amjad Ali Sahaab Faces Investigation

Pakistani Journalist Fayaz Zafar Detained, Accuses Police of Abuse; Amjad Ali Sahaab Faces Investigation

On August 30, authorities apprehended Zafar, a journalist associated with the U.S. Congress-funded Pashto-language broadcaster Voice of America Deewa and the Daily Mashriq newspaper, in Swat District of northwest Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, as per reports and Zafar’s account to CPJ.

The arrest followed a directive from magistrate Irfan Ullah Khan, who ordered Zafar’s preventive detention for 30 days under the West Pakistan Maintenance of Public Order Ordinance, 1960. Allegations against him cited the dissemination of “fake, offensive, and hateful content” on social media to defame and incite the public against governmental and law enforcement bodies.

Zafar recounted being subjected to physical assault by six officers for approximately 15 minutes at the residence of Swat police chief Shafiullah Gandapur, despite informing them of his heart condition. Additionally, police reportedly damaged Zafar’s car with their rifle butts and held the vehicle until September 5. Gandapur allegedly pressured Zafar to sign an affidavit pledging to cease his critical reporting on the police, which Zafar refused, leading to his incarceration.

The following day, Khan revoked the detention order and ordered Zafar’s release, following interventions from the District Bar Association and a local tribal assembly. Interim Information Minister Murtaza Solangi intervened, urging Zafar’s release and prompting an investigation into the incident by the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government.

In another case, Sahaab, editor of the Urdu newspaper Daily Azadi Swat and the online blog Lafzuna, became subject to a police investigation in Mingora city of Swat District. Police accused him of inciting violence against state institutions through social media and criticizing the district administration.

Sahaab reported that police attempted to raid his home on August 31, but refrained from entering upon his brother’s assertion that Sahaab was absent and women were present inside. Sahaab sought pre-arrest bail from a local court on September 1, securing protection until the next hearing on September 9.

Authorities charged Sahaab with defamation, intentional insult to breach the peace under the penal code, and causing annoyance or intimidation under The Telegraph Act, 1885, as per CPJ’s review of the police report.

CPJ’s Asia Program Coordinator Beh Lih Yi urged swift and transparent investigations into Zafar’s arrest and alleged abuse by the police, advocating for accountability. Yi also called for the cessation of the investigation against Sahaab, emphasizing journalists’ rights to report on matters of public interest without hindrance.

Zafar expressed concerns for his safety post-detention, seeking medical treatment for injuries sustained during the assault. He believed the targeting stemmed from his recent reporting, including social media posts highlighting incidents like a student’s alleged abduction near a police station and photographs depicting militants patrolling after attacking a police post.

Similarly, Sahaab linked the investigation to his critical social media posts, particularly Lafzuna’s discussions on local authorities’ purported failure to curb rising militancy and activists’ arrests, alongside blogs addressing security concerns.


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