Journalists Gather in Islamabad, Seek Justice for Asad Ali Toor


The journalist fraternity shouted slogans against the government, criticising the frequent arrests and the suppression of free speech in Pakistan….reports Asian Lite News

Several prominent journalists, along with social and political activists, held a protest outside the National Press Club in Islamabad on Tuesday demanding the withdrawal of the FIR against journalist Asad Ali Toor.

During the protest, the journalist fraternity shouted slogans against the government, criticising the frequent arrests and the suppression of free speech in Pakistan. The journalists carried placards that read, “Release Asad Toor, Open X and Lift Restrictions on the Internet,” “Journalism is not a crime.”

In a post on X, Pakistani journalist Munizae Jahangir stated, “Protesting against the arrest of #AsadToor demanding that the vague FIR registered against him which does not specify how he caused insecurity amongst govt should be withdrawn & govt coming in must lift restrictions on internet & social media platforms like X. Democracy must be 4 ppl.”

In another post, Jahangir also criticized the unannounced ban on social media platform X and suspension of the internet.

Taking to X, Munizae Jahangir stated, “Protesting outside press club for release of #AsadToor & against the unannounced ban on X /Twitter & suspension of the internet.The FIR against Toor is vague & frivolous denying him right to fair trial. Politicians coming into power must ensure that democracy is revived in Pak.”

Hamid Mir, a prominent journalist from Pakistan, in a brazen attack over Pakistan’s methods of suppressing journalists stated that “we are not demanding the release of Asad Toor and Imran Riaz, but it is better that the Pakistani regime follow their list of targeted journalists and arrest all of us at once. Although, we demand that Pakistan’s Supreme Court which has taken the initiative to bring the killers of Pakistani journalist Arshad Sharif to justice, otherwise we journalists will have to bring the perpatrators to light and make them leave Pakistan.”

The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) of Pakistan arrested Asad Ali Toor after he was summoned to appear before court on Monday. Toor was ordered to appear before court under the allegations of an “explicit and malicious” campaign against Supreme Court judges, a report by the committee to protect journalists stated, quoting Toor’s lawyer, Imaan Mazari-Hazir.

An independent journalist, Toor operates a YouTube channel named ‘Asad Toor Uncensored’ with over 1,60,000 subscribers, covering the political affairs of Pakistan.

The ongoing remand and arrest of journalists in Pakistan is not a new phenomenon, as similar incidents have occurred in the past.

The report published by the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) stated, “From August 2022 to August 2023, 37.5 per cent of journalists faced violence, including harassment, kidnapping, physical violence and lawsuits. From 2021 to 2023, 93 out of 248 such cases have been registered in Islamabad alone. There were 56 cases against journalists in Sindh and according to the Pakistan Press Foundation, two journalists were killed, 72 were tortured and three were kidnapped.”

A report by known Pakistani news outlet ‘Dawn’ named ‘Pakistani journalists continue to pay a high price for free speech as 2023 marks another tough year’.

Referring to the attacks on people related to the journalism background in 2023 the Dawn reported that the marketing director at Bol Media Group was kidnapped in Karachi in April and his whereabouts remain unknown to this day.

On April 19, Gohar Wazir was abducted and severely tortured at an unknown location for 30 hours before being released, Dawn reported. Several journalists and activists have protested the police’s failure to register an FIR and arrest the culprits.

Wazir, who works with Khyber News and is president of the National Press Club Bannu, is vociferous on human rights issues affecting Pashtun people, according to Dawn report. (ANI)

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