Accusing them of “either participating
in anti-Pakistan activities or producing anti-state content” for foreign media under pseudonyms, the memo says: “you are requested to strictly follow [their] movements and social media accounts.” And it adds: “They maybe [sic] approached
through proper channels to stop such rhetoric against Pakistan in future.”
The memo is addressed to the Director-General of Inter-Service [sic] Intelligence (ISI), Islamabad, the Director-General of Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), the
Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Information and Broadcasting, the Director-General of Military Intelligence, Islamabad, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The memo was apparently not circulated within
the interior ministry, as would normally be the case with this kind of document. In other words, rather than an official publication, it is a working document addressed solely to the five named recipients. It is unclear who originally leaked it and with what
“Let’s not be fooled, the Pakistani intelligence agencies could have leaked this document in an attempt to poison public opinion and intimidate the journalists it names,” said Daniel Bastard, the head of RSF’s Asia-Pacific
“Even if it is not an official memo, the sinister nature of the suggestion that journalists based abroad should be ‘approached through proper channels’ is extremely shocking. We will pay close attention to the safety of the reporters
named in this memo and we will know who to hold responsible if any of them, or a member of their family, is subjected to threats or intimidation.”
RSF has seen a disturbing surge in incidents targeting Pakistani journalists based abroad since
the start of the year. The most serious is the mysterious death in Sweden of Sajid Hussain,
the editor of the Balochistan Times website, whose body was found in late April, seven weeks after he went missing.
The Swedish police have not yet ruled out the possibility that his death
was linked to his work as a journalist, a hypothesis that is particularly disturbing because his website reported drug trafficking cases, human rights violations, enforced disappearances and rebel activity in Balochistan, his home province, which he fled in
2012. He could have been the victim of a reprisal for his coverage of these very
Hussain’s death was all the more disturbing for coming exactly one month after Ahmad Waqass Goraya, a Pakistani blogger living in self-imposed exile in the Netherlands, was attacked and threatened outside his Rotterdam home by two individuals whose methods “fit the modus operandi of Pakistani spy agencies,” he said.
According to confidential
information obtained by RSF, a list of Pakistani dissidents who are now refugees in other countries has been circulating within the ISI since late 2019.
In 2018, ahead of the elections, When Pakistan’s military spokesman held a press conference
on emerging threats, Matiullah Jan, a journalist who has written critically of the judiciary and the military, was surprised to see his own picture flash on the screen. The spokesman, then DG-ISPR Maj Gen. Asif Ghafoor, said Jan and a handful of other journalists
and bloggers were anti-state and anti-military. Those were serious allegations in Pakistan, where the military has ruled, directly or indirectly, for most of the country’s history and sure enough, Jan should have seen it coming. The Pakistan Army does
not forget its enemies. Two years after the statement, today the So-called protectors of the nation have acted again by trying to silence another honest voice. Another outspoken journalist, who spoke the truth to power, has been “disappeared”!
Journalists in Pakistan are fighting to retain hard-won freedoms. But the lights are dimming rapidly. Media owners are being threatened and blackmailed to fire outspoken journalists or silence them. Hundreds have lost jobs in the economic
downturn. New laws are being promulgated to curtail human rights and freedoms. Independent media is being shut down. Censorship of electronic media with continual round the clock advisories is the norm. The theme is “control and management” of
the media. Those who resist lose their jobs or are roughed up or “disappeared”! Those who speak the truth to the un-accountable are targeted. The unknowns have created havoc roaming freely but state institutions are silent about them.
21 Jul 20/Tuesday Source: rsf.org