Pakistani journalist critical of government seized outside home

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Pakistani journalists chant slogans during demonstration to condemn the arrest of their colleague Rizwan-ur-Rehman Razi, in Lahore, Pakistan, Saturday, Feb. 9, 2019. (AP)
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Osama Rizi, son of a journalist Rizwan-ur-Rehman Razi, displays a calendar with the pictures of his father outside his residence in Lahore, Pakistan, Saturday, Feb. 9, 2019. (AP)
Updated 09 February 2019
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Pakistani journalist critical of government seized outside home

  • Pakistani journalists say they face an increasingly hostile climate since the vote last year that saw Prime Minister Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) take power
  • Government officials say Pakistan has an independent media and the military denies pressuring journalists

LAHORE: A Pakistani journalist under scrutiny for anti-government social media posts was beaten and seized outside his home on Saturday, his son said, in the latest sign of pressure on media.
Rizwan Razi, who worked for private Din TV in the city of Lahore, was being investigated for “defamatory and obnoxious” comments about the judiciary, government and intelligence services, according to Pakistan’s law enforcement agency.
However, there was no official confirmation he had been arrested.
“My father went out of home to see off friends,” his son Osama told Reuters of the incident on Saturday morning.
“When the friends left, unknown persons, riding a black Honda Civic car, thrashed and dragged him in the car and fled away ... I ran after the car but could not do anything.”
Pakistani journalists say they face an increasingly hostile climate since the vote last year that saw Prime Minister Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) take power.
A report from the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), dated Saturday and seen by Reuters, said Razi had previously been questioned about his Twitter comments. It said authorization had been granted to register a case against him.
His account @RaziDada appeared to be offline on Saturday.
FIA officials in Lahore referred questions to the main office in Islamabad, where officials could not be reached.
Khan’s government replaced the party of ousted former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who was at odds with the powerful military and is currently serving a seven-year prison sentence for corruption.
The increased official pressure has come at a difficult time for the media in general as advertising revenues have plunged and newsroom budgets been slashed.
Government officials say Pakistan has an independent media and the military denies pressuring journalists.
In a separate case, Ammar Ali Jan, an academic also based in Lahore, was arrested over his involvement in a protest at the death of Arman Loni, a regional leader of the Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement. He was later released on bail.
A message on Ammar’s Facebook page on Saturday said he was taken at 4 a.m. “I am a law-abiding citizen and will not be deterred in the fight for justice,” it said.
Police official Azhar Naveed confirmed the brief detention and bail, which followed other arrests over the protests earlier this week. He said Ammar was charged with taking part in a rally, blocking a road and making “anti-state” speeches.


Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry inaugurates Arab News Pakistan bureau

Updated 16 February 2019
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Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry inaugurates Arab News Pakistan bureau

  • New office will be hub for Asian operation of paper and builds on relationship with community and its digital generation
  • Arab News launched its online Pakistan edition www.arabnews.pk in February last year as part of its global digital expansion plans

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Minister of Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry has officially inaugurated Arab News Pakistan bureau in the country’s capital.

Chaudhry was the chief guest at the occasion and several prominent Pakistani media personalities and Arab News staff also attended the launch ceremony.

Standing side by side with Arab News Editor-in-Chief Faisal J. Abbas, who is in Pakistan as part of the media delegation accompanying the royal visit by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and Arab News Asia Bureau Chief Baker Atyani, Chaudhry cut a ceremonial ribbon to open the office.

“I am very happy for two reasons: The perception was building that the newspapers were not coming (to Pakistan), so once an international publication like Arab News (has come here) it certainly gives us a huge boost.”

Chaudhry described how the relationship between the nations was becoming stronger, particularly with the growth of Pakistan’s voice in the Middle East.

‘Secondly, I think this is an era where Pakistan is playing a very important role in the Middle East and to have such a major Middle Eastern publication coming to Pakistan itself shows the kind of importance Pakistan has of the Middle East and vice versa, we are very happy to have you here.’

Editor-in-Chief Faisal J. Abbas thanked the Pakistani information minister for his presence at the inauguration and for the efforts of the Information and Broadcasting Ministry to help facilitate the newspaper’s operations in Islamabad. 

“The inauguration of our Islamabad bureau a year after the launch of our local digital edition is an indicator of our commitment to Pakistan and our determination to help create a better understanding of Saudi Arabia and the region,” said Abbas. 

“Ever since its establishment in 1975, Arab News has had a special relationship with the massive and incredibly loyal Pakistani community in Saudi Arabia. Today we inaugurate this bureau in Islamabad to ensure a continued connection with the community and establish a relationship with a new more digital and highly connected generation,” he added. 

Asia Bureau Chief Baker Atyani said that the new office would be a hub not only for the Arab News Pakistan edition but also for the entire Asian operation of the paper. “We currently have reporters across Pakistan as well as nine other Asian countries and with the help, hard work and dedication of our team at the Islamabad bureau we hope not only to better manage our operation but to grow further in Asia as well.” 

Arab News launched its online Pakistan edition www.arabnews.pk in February last year as part of its global digital expansion plans. The project is the first of many new international editions planned by the Riyadh-based newspaper. 

Arab News is part of the regional publishing giant Saudi Research and Marketing Group (SRMG).