Crime & Justice

Amnesty expresses concern over crackdown on Pakistani journalists

Islamabad, June 15 (EFE).- Amnesty International (AI) on Thursday said it was extremely concerned over crackdown on voices critical of the state and the military in Pakistan, urging the authorities to end use of power to silence critics.

At least seven Pakistani journalists, including Shaheen Sehbai, Wajahat Saeed Khan, Syed Haider Raza Mehdi, Sabir Shakir and Moeed Pirzada have been charged with offenses against the state and anti-terror laws in recent days.

“Amnesty International is extremely concerned with the crackdown on voices critical of the state and military,” the rights watchdog said in a statement.

All the journalists critical of the powerful army have left Pakistan since the ouster of former Prime Minister Imran Khan from office in April last year.

Khan has accused the military of orchestrating his removal through a parliamentary vote of no confidence.

Another journalist Arshad Sharif, also a staunch critic of the military, was killed in mysterious circumstances in Kenya last year.

His mother has accused former army chief Qamar Bajwa and other senior intelligence officials for his assassination.

All the seven journalists have taken refuge in the United Kingdom and the United States over fears for their lives. Almost all of them are using Youtube to voice their views.

Amnesty said that the anti-terrorism act in Pakistan – which grants sweeping powers to the police and the armed forces – has led to the abuse of human rights with impunity, and done away with safeguards against arbitrary arrest, detention and ill-treatment.

“Pakistani authorities must end the use of offenses against the state and anti-terror laws to silence critics,” it urged.

Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party has claimed that more than 10,000 of its workers and supporters including women have been detained by the authorities following the arrest of Khan last month.

Khan was released on bail after violent protests in the country saw some military installations ransacked by rioters.

The government led by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has handed over more than 50 suspected civilians to the military for trials in military courts, a decision that has also sparked widespread criticism. EFE


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