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Siddique Jan's arrest exposes Pakistan government's repression against journalists

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Amid the ongoing crackdown on the media in Pakistan, Pakistani state authorities have arrested another journalist, Siddique Jan, in the federal capital Islamabad, media reported Monday.

According to media reports, Siddique Jan, who is currently working as Bureau Chief of Bol News TV in Islamabad, was present outside his office when some men in plainclothes whisked him away.

As soon as the news of Siddique Jan's arrest broke out, #ReleaseSiddiqueJan became the top trend on Twitter in Pakistan. National Press Club Islamabad President Anwar Raza, and other journalists expressed solidarity with Siddique Jan and demanded his release.

On Saturday, when former prime minister Imran Khan had arrived in Islamabad from Lahore to attend a court hearing, Siddique Jan was present inside the Federal Judicial Complex where the hearing was to take place. Siddique Jan has been sharing some videos of the police shelling on the PTI supporters outside the Complex.

One of the videos was of officials in plain cloth in the Federal Judicial Complex. Imran Khan showed this video in his address to the nation Monday and questioned what these plain cloth officials were doing in the Federal Judicial Complex.

Imran khan claimed that these officials in plain cloth were there to assassinate me.

In a tweet, Imran Khan, strongly condemned the arrest of Siddique Jan and pointed out that anyone thought to be pro PTI is now brazenly targeted. He said that Imran Riaz, Jamil Faruqi, Sabir Shakir, Sami Ibrahim, Chaudhery Ghulam Hussain and Moeed Pirzada are also being victimized. Imran Khan pointed out that a prominent investigative journalist Arshad Sharif was murdered.

Siddiq Jan was released by an Islamabad Court on Tuesday while the police case against him was dismissed.

Here are some cases of arrests of prominent journalists:

Imran Riaz Khan arrested for alleged hate speech

On February 2, 2023 officers with Pakistan's Federal Investigation Agency arrested Imran Riaz Khan, an anchor with the BOL News and host of a YouTube channel with about 3.8 million subscribers.

A police report said that Khan was engaged in "hate speech" aimed at creating a "rift between the general public and the state institutions" during his speech at a January 30 seminar on violence against journalists in Pakistan, clips of which were shared on social media. In that speech, Khan questioned Qamar Javed Bajwa, a former army general, who said in his final speech before his retirement in November 2022 that the army would remain apolitical in Pakistan.

Tellingly, in January, FIA officers arrested journalist Shahid Aslam, alleging he was involved in coverage of the assets of Bajwa and his family.

He was released on bail on January 18. Police previously detained Imran Riaz Khan from July 5 to 9, 2022, after a slew of cases were registered against him.

On July 14, 2022, authorities ordered Khan off a Dubai-bound flight from the Lahore airport, according to a tweet by the journalist and his lawyer, Mian Ali Ashfaq, who spoke with CPJ.

Journalist found jailed in Pakistan after going missing in Malaysia

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Author and journalist. Author of Islamic Pakistan: Illusions & Reality; Islam in the Post-Cold War Era; Islam & Modernism; Islam & Muslims in the Post-9/11 America. Currently working as free lance journalist. Executive Editor of American (more...)
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