May 29, 2023

Journalists being targeted with impunity

ARY News anchorperson and journalist, Iqrarul Hassan and his team was beaten by Intelligence Bureau (IB) officials in Karachi. The incident happened during the shooting of Hassan’s popular program Sar-e-Aam as he was exposing an alleged corruption scandal.

As per Hassan, he and his team were trapped inside the IB office, tortured and electrocuted for hours. After the incident, he was shifted to Abbasi Shaheed Hospital. The incident caused a storm on social media and news channels, as it was called a direct attack on freedom of press.

Following the violence against Iqrarul Hassan, Mohsin Baig, a media personality was arrested from his home in Islamabad by the Federal Investigation Authority (FIA). As per details, the FIA raided his home after a complaint by Federal Minister of Communication, Murad Saeed.

The minister had filed a complained against Baig days after the media personality passed some derogatory remarks against Saeed in a TV program regarding his performance and used sexual innuendos against him.

Some critics believe that the action was suspiciously quick.

Journalist Asad Ali Toor said, “Interestingly, federal minister Murad Saeed complained before FIA in Lahore 9am and in 30 minutes on the same day FIA team from Lahore reached Islamabad and arrested Mohsin Baig.”

Even though five officials of IB have been suspended, however, many remain sceptical about the action against Baig. “I am sure the five suspended officials will be back after sometime,” said renowned Kashif Abbasi.

Senior journalist Asma Sherazi maintained that the “arrest of Mohsin Baig seems to be a preparation of a new attack on media.”

Journalist bodies, including the Pakistan Broadcast Association (PBA) condemned the incidents. In a statement, the PBA “expressed its deep concern over this incident and has demanded that an inquiry must be held immediately and those found responsible must be given exemplary punishments.”

Meanwhile, Federal Minister of Information, Fawad Chaudhry said that he has talked to the owner of ARY News. “The responsible will not be spared from punishment,” he said.

Many journalists perceived as ‘pro government’ maintained that Baig’s arrest was justified because of his remarks against Murad Saeed. However, the main point of contention in these two scenarios is use of power of by the authorities.

Critics imply state complicity in Mohsin Baig’s arrest Iqrarul Hassan’s torture. They insist that law enforcement authories and the IB are acting with impunity and can act without fearing any consequences.

The general perception is that the authorities can do whatever they want, there might be hue and cry for some time but soon everything will be back to normal.

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