Pakistan:  Journalist beaten up allegedly at the behest of a provincial minister

Asad Khan Betini, a journalist based in the town of Zhob in Baluchistan province was beaten up on 7 April in his office by a dozen men, allegedly at the behest of the provincial agriculture minister Sheikh Jaffar Khan Mandokhail.  Betini was taken to the hospital in the provincial Quetta where he has been admitted for observation.

Betini is chief editor of monthly magazine, Nawa-e-Qaisa and is correspondent of Aaj television network.  He also writes on freelance basis for a number of publications including the weekly The Friday Times.

Betini said the minister, who also the member of provincial assembly from Zhob, was infuriated by his stories and that he and his brother had earlier been threatened by a person for minister’s office to stop writing stories critical of Mandokhel.  According to press reports, earlier in the week Betini had exchanged harsh words with Mandokhail and a clash also took place between their supporters.

Talking to daily Dawn, Mandokhail said the allegations levelled against him by Betini were baseless and were an attempt to blackmail him. Mandokhail said he was in politics for more than two decades but nobody had accused him of such wrongdoing before.

Betini said although the CT scan by the hospital did not show damage to the brain, he has not been discharged from hospital because of the constant headache.