Human rights bodies and media watchdogs are expressing their concerns over the arrest of journalist Imran Riaz Khan. Journalist bodies through their press releases and official statements have raised grave concerns over curbing the freedom of expression in Pakistan. Since April 11, journalists have become victim of their own state under new Shahbaz regime.
In an official press release, The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) condemned the arrest of Journalist Imran Khan. “As the number of cases lodged against journalists increases in Pakistan, the IFJ urges the Pakistani authorities to withdraw the cases against Imran Riaz Khan and cease the use of government mechanisms to harass journalists and media workers.” Reads official statement.
IFJ also added in its statement that most of the cases against journalists are being registered under PECA law. It is worth mentioning here that Islamabad High Court has already raised concerns on PECA law and declared its many sections unconstitutional including section 20.
Amnesty International also expressed displeasure over the deterioration of press freedom in Pakistan. In an official statement, human rights watch dog said that
“Amnesty International is alarmed by news of journalist Imran Riaz Khan’s arrest and urges authorities to stop punishing dissenting voices, as has been a worrying trend in Pakistan for many years.”
UK based Human rights watchdog also said that “In the past few weeks, journalists have been disappeared, faced politically motivated charges and even violently attacked for simply doing their job. Journalism is not a crime, and must be stopped being treated as such.”
Pakistan’s journalist bodies also condemned the arrest of Journalist Imran Riaz Khan and demanded the immediate release of the senior journalist. In an official statement, PFUJ said that “Registration of cases against journalists is an attempt to gag them. This is an action which cannot be permitted in any democratic and civilized country.”
Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists also said that “It is also widely believed that the government is targeting media persons who are considered supporters of Pakistan Tehreek e Insaf, the opposition party led by former PM Imran Khan. Such impression should be dispelled and the government should not be seen targeting a certain section of the journalist fraternity.”
Rawalpindi Islamabad Union of Journalists condemned the registration of cases against journalists and declared it an attempt to silent the dissent voices. “These attempts to curb the freedom of the press are not acceptable and such things never happened in democratic societies. Such things only happen under martial law regimes and this will not be tolerated.”
RUIJ also demanded the immediate release of Journalist Imran Riaz Khan and warned that if all this does not stop here then journalist bodies will protest against these fascist and unconstitutional acts.