Pakistan Press Foundation welcomes the safe return of Daily Jang senior reporter Syed Muhammad Askari; alarmed by the continued abductions of journalists with impunity
Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF) welcomes the safe return of Daily Jang senior reporter Syed Muhammad Askari, a day after he was “picked up” in Karachi. PPF expresses alarm over the continued unexplained abductions of journalists in Pakistan. PPF also urges the relevant authorities to ensure that Askari’s electronic devices are returned as under the Sindh-level Sindh Protection of Journalists and Other Media Professionals Act 2021 and the federal-level Protection of Journalists and Media Professionals Act 2021, journalists are guaranteed a right to privacy.
According to Geo, on July 9, Askari was “picked up” from Karachi. Quoting an eyewitness, Askari’s friend said that the police and plainclothes persons had detained him and Askari despite the journalist introducing himself as a reporter. The friend was released, the report added, after which he took the vehicle to the Jang office and reported the incident.
Speaking to PPF following his return, a senior education reporter, Askari, shared that three to four unidentified persons in plainclothes had picked him up from the Korangi area of the city and taken him to the Old Sabzi Mandi area.
“They intercepted my car when I was returning from attending a wedding ceremony and took me with them. They snatched my mobile phone, Rs43,000 in cash, and my car keys,” he said, adding that he could not see them as he had been blindfolded. Askari shared that during the time that he was in the custody of the individuals, they had made videos of him and had asked him questions regarding news he had reported on education. He shared that this was the first time he had faced such an incident. Askari said that the perpetrators had not mishandled, harmed him, or been violent towards him.
According to Dawn, Askari’s wife, Shazia Askari, had submitted a complaint.
On the morning of July 10, Geo reported that Askari had returned after over 24 hours.
In separate statements, the Karachi Union of Journalists and the Crime Reporters Association President Kashif Hashmi had condemned Askari’s abduction.
Karachi Union of Journalists President Faheem Siddiqui said that the KUJ strongly condemns the incident, adding that they had highlighted the issue with the Sindh Commission for Protection of Journalists and Other Media Practitioners.
Siddiqui added the KUJ and Askari’s family were trying to turn the application into a First Information Report.
The Sindh Commission for Protection of Journalists and Other Media Practitioners (CPJMP) Chairperson Justice Retired Rasheed Rizvi called a one-point agenda emergency meeting of the Commission at the request of the Karachi Union of Journalists. The participants of the meeting expressed anger and worry over incidents of kidnappings/abductions of journalists. Askari’s abduction was condemned during the meeting. The CPJMP execution committee said that the incident was in violation of Article 9 and Article 10 of the Constitution. The chairperson ordered the Sindh Interior Secretary and Sindh Inspector General to recover Askari within 24 hours and asked for a report to be submitted before the Commission within 36 hours.
The incident comes just over a month after another journalist, Geo News executive producer Zubair Anjum was “picked up” from his residence in Karachi.