A threat letter issued by the counter-terrorism department of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa revealed that a splinter group of banned terrorist organization Tehrek-e-Taliban Pakistan was planning to assassinate renowned Pakistani journalist and ARY news anchorperson Arshad Sharif.
According to the threat letter, “ A splinter group of TTP in its meeting held at village Sur Karez, Spin Boldak, Afghanistan has discussed to target anchorperson Arshad Sharif in the near future. For executing their plan, terrorists have finalized to conduct reconnaissance of the target and to locate him at a suitable place, most probably at Rawalpindi and its adjoining areas.”
The letter further added that, “ In the light of the above situation, extreme vigilance and all possible security measures must be adopted including sensitization of the target with specific directions to restrict his unnecessary movements.”
The journalist is being targeted since May for being critical of the government. Arshad Sharif was booked in multiple cases under sedition charges. These fake and baseless FIRs were registered in different areas of the country including Chaman, Dadu, Hyderabad, Karachi, Pasheen and Quetta. Following these developments, the journalist was left with no other option but to leave his country for the safety of his life.
On July 12, Arshad Sharif wrote a detailed letter to the President of Pakistan Dr. Arif Alvi and raised some serious questions on threats posed to him. As a recipient of the Presidential Pride of Performance award, journalist Arshad Sharif brought some undeniable facts in President Alvi’s notice and revealed that “an attempt is being made by certain unscrupulous elements to target and illegally restrain the undersigned from exercising rights and duties ensured by Article 4, Article 9, Article 10 A, Article 14, Article 18, Article 19 and 19 A of the Constitution of Pakistan.”
Former Prime Minister Imran Khan also raised concerns over curbing the media freedom and threats posed to senior journalists. In his tweet, the former PM said, “I want to warn our nation of an unprecedented crackdown campaign by Imported govt & State machinery against media houses & journalists who are carrying PTI & my narrative to the public. Two journalists, Arshad Sharif & Sabir Shakir, have had to leave Pak fearing for their lives.”
The committee to Protect Journalists has already condemned the harassment of journalists associated with ARY News and issued an official statement.
“Pakistan needs to get out of the habit of filing legal cases, throwing journalists into jail & blocking programming distribution in response to on-air comments it doesn’t like. Authorities should drop legal proceedings against ARY journalists, and executives.” Reads CPJ’s statement.