Home Politics Pakistani Journalists Abroad Targeted in Terrorism Investigations

Pakistani Journalists Abroad Targeted in Terrorism Investigations

Pakistani Journalists Abroad Targeted in Terrorism Investigations

In a troubling turn of events, Pakistani journalists based abroad find themselves ensnared in terrorism investigations launched by authorities back home. Wajahat Saeed Khan, Shaheen Sehbai, Sabir Shakir, and Moeed Pirzada, distinguished members of the journalistic community, are now facing alarming accusations of inciting violence and chaos, prompting widespread concern over press freedoms in Pakistan.

The ordeal commenced on June 10th when Pakistani police initiated criminal and terrorism probes into freelance journalists Khan and Sehbai, alongside two former army officers. They stand accused of allegedly instigating attacks on military installations and spreading terrorism following the arrest of former Prime Minister Imran Khan on May 9th. Similarly, on June 13th, investigations were launched against Shakir, Pirzada, and another ex-army officer for purportedly engaging in similar activities.

The charges leveled against these journalists hinge on their social media posts and videos, citing sections of the penal code related to criminal conspiracy and abetting mutiny, as well as the Anti-Terrorism Act of 1997, which carries severe penalties, including death or life imprisonment. Such grave accusations against individuals known for their journalistic integrity and critical analysis have sparked outrage both locally and internationally.

Beh Lih Yi, Asia Program Coordinator for the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), condemned the investigations, labeling them as retaliatory measures against critical reporting and commentary. Yi stressed the urgent need for authorities to drop the investigations and cease the relentless intimidation of the media, asserting that press freedom is a fundamental pillar of democracy.

The timing of these investigations, following Imran Khan’s arrest and subsequent protests, raises suspicions of a concerted effort to silence dissenting voices. Since the arrest, journalists in Pakistan have faced arrests, attacks, and harassment, with mainstream news channels bowing to military pressure by ceasing coverage of the former prime minister. The disappearance of anchor Imran Riaz Khan further underscores the dangers faced by journalists operating in the country.

Each of the accused journalists had been vocal in their critique of Imran Khan’s arrest and its aftermath on social media and YouTube channels. Wajahat Saeed Khan, with a substantial following on YouTube, expressed concerns over authorities exploiting the unrest to target journalists critical of the government and military. Shaheen Sehbai, a dual U.S.-Pakistan citizen, believes he was singled out for his outspoken criticism of the army, while Moeed Pirzada, now residing in the U.S. following threats, sees the investigation as an attempt to stifle his voice.

In response to international scrutiny, the Pakistani government attempted to justify its actions, claiming that the journalists were not targeted solely for their journalistic activities but for engaging in political activism disguised as journalism. However, such assertions fail to quell concerns over the erosion of press freedoms and the intimidation tactics employed against journalists critical of the government.

As the investigations unfold, the global community watches closely, urging Pakistani authorities to uphold press freedoms and ensure the safety and security of journalists, both at home and abroad. The plight of Wajahat Saeed Khan, Shaheen Sehbai, Sabir Shakir, and Moeed Pirzada serves as a stark reminder of the vital role journalists play in holding power to account and the dangers they face in doing so.


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