A prominent rights group has slammed the Pakistani government for the arrest of journalist Imran Riaz Khan and urged authorities to stop punishing dissenting voices.
“PAKISTAN: Amnesty International is alarmed by news of journalist Imran Riaz Khan’s arrest and urges authorities to stop punishing dissenting voices, as has been a worrying trend in Pakistan for many years,” Amnesty said in a statement.
“In the past few weeks, journalists have been disappeared, faced politically motivated charges and even violently attacked for simply doing their job. Journalism is not a crime, and must be stopped being treated as such,” it added.
Popular news anchor Imran Riaz Khan was arrested on Tuesday near the outskirts of Islamabad, hours after he claimed that his life was under threat.
Khan was heading to Islamabad when he was arrested in connection with a treason case registered against him in Attock, Pakistan’s Dawn reported. He was named in 17 treason cases across Punjab province, the report said.
In a pre-recorded video on his popular video channel, Riaz Khan said his life was under threat.
“This video is being recorded for the time of my arrest. They may kill me. After a gap of five hours, if they will harm me, then I will upload such a video on my channel that will cause a furore. I will name everyone. Just wait for 5 hours,” he said.
Former prime minister Imran Khan condemned the arbitrary arrest, saying that Pakistan is descending into fascism.
“I strongly condemn the arbitrary arrest of @ImranRiazKhan by Punjab police tonight. The country is descending into fascism just to make our nation accept an Imported Govt comprising of mega crooks. It is time for everyone, esp the media, to unite & stand up against this fascism,” Khan had tweeted.
In a recent video on his Youtube channel, the journalist addressed Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa. He also alleged that he was threatened after asking questions from military sources about the country’s current political and economic situation.
Several cases have been lodged against journalists in Pakistan for allegedly spreading hate against the army and state institutions. This latest arrest comes in the backdrop of a growing crackdown on journalists in Pakistan.
Earlier this week, police raided the home of journalist Rana Abrar Khalid in Rajanpur, Punjab following his investigation last year into former prime minister Imran Khan’s use of public funds.
Last week, senior journalist and former parliamentarian Ayaz Amir was assaulted by unknown persons.