Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF) is concerned by reports of the alleged harassment of ARY journalist Arshad Sharif at the hands of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA). We urge the agency to act in compliance of the Islamabad High Court’s orders to stop harassing Sharif and other journalists.
According to Dawn, Sharif had asked his legal counsel Faisal Chaudhry to approach the high court as he was being harassed.
The report added that Chauhdhy was unable to reach the anchorperson and “there were reasonable grounds to believe that the FIA had malafidely and illegally detained the petitioner”.
As per Chaudhry, Sharif had broken the news of the prime minister’s visit to Saudi Arabia. He alleged that “people went to Arshad Sharif’s house in civil uniform last night. I have not been in direct contact with Arshad Sharif since last night”.
The court was set to take up proceedings in the case once again on April 29 for which the FIA director general and Islamabad Police inspector general of police were directed to nominate their representatives to appear before the court.
Sharif received an outpouring of support from leaders of the recently ousted Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf party.
The Council of Pakistan Newspaper Editors (CPNE) has also strongly condemned the incident and expressed solidarity with Sharif. In a statement, CPNE leadership said that state institutions should not become a tool to silence journalists.
The FIA, in a statement, has denied responsibility for the arrest or harassment of Sharif stating that it “seems fake news”.
As the court proceeding continues, we are likely to receive further clarity on the situation. There is however no excuse or justification for the harassment of a journalist. We urge the responsible individuals and party to ensure that press freedom is guaranteed for all members of the media fraternity without any exception.