June 1st, 2021 

By Ahmed Saeed


Islamabad-based journalist and blogger Asad Ali Toor says he has not received any official summons from the federal investigation agency (FIA).

“I have been receiving a picture of the notice on my WhatsApp from various unknown numbers with threatening and intimidating messages,” he told Voicepk.net, adding that the first time he first came to know of the notice was through social media, especially via unsolicited messages from unknown numbers.

One threatening message read “Serena Esa ka gift lga kr jana (Put on Sarina Isa’s gift before you go)”, referring to the painkiller she gave Toor during a visit after he had been attacked by plainclothes men a week ago.

The FIA notice, dated May 31 and containing the signature of the Authority’s inspector, has been circulating on social media since Monday evening. The notice stated that the FIA’s Cyber Crime Wing in Rawalpindi was conducting an inquiry regarding “defamation of institution of Government of Pakistan through social media” on the complaint of one Fayyaz Mehmood Raja.

Toor also said that he was taken aback by one particular sentence in the notice: “The available facts suggest that you are well aware of the facts/circumstances of said inquiry.”

He said that this notice is ridiculous and tantamount to mockery of justice. The journalist has demanded the FIA clear its position on this issue and send the notice directly to his residence.

“If it is real, then the FIA must explain how this ‘official notice’ managed to reach unknown people, who are now using it to harass me,” he asserted.

Voicepk.net made multiple attempts to reach out to the FIA and the concerned inspector to verify the notice as well as to take the Authority’s response with regards to Toor’s claims, but none including the PRO responded to our calls.

The notice stated that the journalist is directed to appear before the undersigned inspector at the FIA police station, Cyber Crime Reporting Centre, Rawalpindi on June 4, 2021, at 11 AM.

“In case of non-compliance, criminal proceedings can be initiated against you u/s 174 Cr.P.C,” the notice added.

However, Toor’s lawyer Imaan Mazari says that he will not appear before the FIA on June 4.

“Our case against the FIA is already pending before the Islamabad high court (IHC). We have filed an additional application before the court and we will try to suspend this notice,” she said.

The IHC will hear Toor’s application against the FIA notice tomorrow.

Mazari also says that sending messages via WhatsApp has no legal value.

“In another case involving one Shiffa Yousafzai, the FIA also sent notices to him on WhatsApp. It has become [the FIA’s] tradition.

She also stated that her team will also file a cyber harassment complaint against the various unknown numbers harassing Toor on WhatsApp.

Last month on May 7, IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah reprimanded the FIA for sending notices to journalists and termed this practice as “the worst example of censorship” in a separate case involving Toor.

Justice Minallah asked the FIA to explain to the bench how many countries admit acts of criticism as criminal cases.

Last year in September, an FIR was lodged against Asad Ali Toor for defaming state institutions on his social media accounts. However, the Lahore High Court later quashed the FIR, terming it “infructuous.”

On May 25, 2021, Toor was assaulted by three unknown assailants in his apartment in Islamabad. Toor said that the attackers wore masks to hide their identities, however they told him they belonged to the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).

Rights organizations and journalist communities at home and abroad widely condemned the attack on him, and demanded the government to end this culture of impunity of attacks on journalists.

The Federal Government has constituted a joint investigation team (JIT) to probe the matter, but no arrest has been made as of yet.