August 31st, 2019

                                            By Ahmad Saeed


The Pakistan Bar Council (PBC), Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), and Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) have strongly condemned the life threats against senior journalist Ahmad Noorani for reporting about the alleged properties being held by brothers and wife of former DG ISPR Lt. General (r) Asim Saleem Bajwa.

The statement issued by, PBC Vice-Chairman Abid Saqi, HRCP Chairperson Dr. Mehdi Hasan and Secretary-General Harris Khalique, PFUJ President Shahzada Zulfiqar, and Secretary-General Nasir Zaidi, denounces the “well-orchestrated campaign” against the journalist, declaring him anti-state and agent of the enemy.

General Bajwa who had retired from the Army as three start general in 2019 and now holds two important positions in the current government. In November 2019, he was appointed as a chairman of a multi-billion dollar China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) Authority while in April this year he was also given the portfolio of Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Information and Broadcasting.

The news report published on a website named “Fact Focus” has revealed that the wife and sons General Bajwa owned or had shares in different businesses including fast-food chains, mining, and telecommunication in four Pakistan, UAE, USA, and Canada.

The retired army officer has rebutted the story in a tweet by declaring it a “malicious propaganda” published on an unknown site.

Soon after the publishing of the story, the site went down and the story became inaccessible. In a tweet, the Fact Focus claimed that their site had been ‘under systematic and organized cyber-attack’. The site was later restored.

But Noorani, who is based in the US for a fellowship, shared some screenshots of threatening messages sent in his twitter’s DM by some suspicious accounts. In another tweet, he wrote that “a TV channel ran his pictures and called me a traitor and an Indian agent after which I started receiving death threats.

The bar, press, and civil society leadership urge the government to provide protection to the journalist and investigate elements behind these threats.

In 2017, Noorani was brutally attacked in broad daylight by unknown attackers in Islamabad. The culprits have not been arrested yet.

Speaking to veteran journalist Muhammad Ziauddin said that the journalist community has been divided for the last couple of years and now our channel has its own PFUJ that’s why we don’t see any organized campaign against these threats to journalists and freedom of speech.

“The owners have become collaborators in the smear campaigns against journalists. In the last few years, a thousand journalists have been laid off from their jobs and now no one can dare to stand against the wishes of its owners,” he said.

He said in the current scenario, the PFUJ should start an online magazine to counter all these propaganda against the outspoken journalists and also publish stories that no organization now dares to run.