“Pak journalists caught in vice between terrorists, local govt. officials”: Media watchdog

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

ISLAMABAD - Two incidents in recent weeks have again highlighted the dangers for journalists in Pakistan, an international media watchdog has observed.

“One is the detention of Ghulam Rasool Khan in the eastern province of Punjab without due process since 3 November. The other is the disappearance of Abdul Hameed Hayatan, also known as Lala Hameed, in the southwestern province of Balochistan, where his colleagues think he was kidnapped by security officials,” Reporters sans frontihres (Reporters Without Borders) said in a statement.

“Pakistani journalists are caught in a vice between terrorists who use threats and kidnapping, and local government officials who do not hesitate to take the law into their own hands in order to detain troublesome reporters,” it added.

The organisation called on the federal information minister to intercede to obtain Khan’s release, and said, “If the judicial authorities think there are grounds for holding him, he should be given a fair trial. The press freedom organization also urges the information minister to get the interior minister to step up efforts to locate Hayatan.”

The Pakistani correspondent of News Network International (NNI), Khan has been held for the past twelve days in Bahawalpur prison, in Punjab province, according to Reporters Without Borders.

“The district authorities used the provisions of a law for the maintenance of public order to detain him and his brother for one month without trial. The real reason for his arrest was his coverage of local government corruption. He recently shed light on various cases of embezzlement and misuse of public funds in several Punjab government departments,” the organisation said.

The other reporter- Hayatan- worked for the Daily Karachi and Tawar, and was reportedly kidnapped by plain-clothed security agents in a 4WD jeep in the port city of Gwadar on October 25.

“He supports the Baloch Nation Movement (BNM), which is regarded by the authorities as a separatist group. His family and colleagues have had no news of him since his abduction,” the organisation said in its statement. (ANI)

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