August 6, 2020

By Ahmed Saeed


The Islamabad police submitted its report in the Matiullah Jan abduction case in the Supreme Court today. Chief Justice Gulzar expressed severe discontent with the report and reprimanded the Inspector General Islamabad (IG) police.

According to the police report the investigators sought out information from various institutions including the military intelligence (MI) and the inter-services intelligence agency (ISI), but these institutions failed to respond.

The court expressed its anger at the flimsy report and ordered the IG Islamabad police to personally visit the relevant institutions instead of merely dispatching letters.

“In criminal cases of this magnitude time is of the utmost essence. Even minute delays can result in lost evidence,” stated the Chief Justice.
The court postponed the hearing of the contempt case against Matiullah Jan and gave his lawyer an additional four weeks to prepare.

The Pakistan Union of Journalists (PFUJ) has been closely following the proceedings of the Matiullah Jan abduction case. PFUJ announced the formation of a six-member committee headed by senior journalist Muhammad Ziauddin to track the progress of the police investigation.

Speaking to, Mr Ziauddin said that, “It is almost impossible for a mere trade union to hold the entire state structure accountable but we will try our level best to ensure that the case is properly perused by the relevant authorities.”

Reporters without Borders (RSF) has ranked Pakistan 145th in the world Press Freedom Index and has declared it an unsafe country for journalists. The abduction of Matiullah Jan is an important illustration of this fact.

After Matiullah Jan was released by his “abductors” another journalist, Anwar Khetran was killed in Baluchistan but the PFUJ failed to elicit an appropriate response. Previously also, journalists have been attacked including the suspicious disappearance and subsequent death of Baloch journalist Sajid Hussain in Sweden, after which the PFUJ did not do more than issue a statement.

Mr Ziauddin agrees that the PFUJ has failed to effectively represent the plight of journalists from peripheral areas.

Only recently former police officer Tariq Khosa wrote in an article in Dawn, his views about the Matiullah case:

“Based on my experience as a police officer, I can say without any fear of contradiction that police were not involved in this kidnapping. The perpetrators used police-like vehicles and wore police uniforms to create the perception that it was another act of police high-handedness, given the general reputation of the police for resorting to illegal detentions and torture. This misleading behaviour is also a serious penal offence; the investigators must have taken due cognisance.

A glaring mistake in this spin is evident from the narration of the victim about a lock-up that looked like a police detention facility with police colours on the walls when he was allowed a brief respite from being blindfolded. Outside the lock-up, he saw a wall inscribed with Moharrar (station clerk) with an arrow pointing in the direction. Nowhere in any police station in the country is a station clerk’s office situated near the lock-up. This was a blatant error on the part of the kidnappers and the masterminds.”

Since 2001, more than 80 journalists have been killed in Pakistan, not counting those who have been threatened and even though the government has announced the formation of several commissions no convictions have been achieved so far.

In the meantime, a Journalists’ Protection Bill is under discussion.

Whether Matiullah Jan’s case will suffer the same fate as several others remain to be seen.