The news regarding the torture of journalist Arshad Sharif has worried the journalist community. Journalist organizations have demanded that the government immediately release the post-mortem report of Arshad Sharif.
On Wednesday, Dunya News anchor Kamran Shahid revealed in one of his programs that before killing Arshad Sharif, he was severely tortured and his three finger nails were pulled out while other parts of the body were also tortured. has been. This news has not only created fear among journalists living in the country, but many circles believe that Pakistani journalists living abroad will also suffer from the fear of insecurity.
It should be noted that Pakistan has been among the dangerous countries for journalists several times. According to a report by Freedom Network, fifty-three journalists have been killed in Pakistan from 2012 to 2022, while many have left the country due to fear and many others have faced threats. At the behest of powerful elements, journalists also had to lose their jobs.
Many journalists believe that this will increase the sense of fear and insecurity. Mazhar Abbas, a well-known journalist from Karachi, says that the news of torture is very worrying for journalists. He told DW, “Journalists have been subjected to torture, bullying, intimidation and harassment in the country before, but what is worrying is that a Pakistani journalist has been killed in another country and now there is news of torture.” . This is a matter of concern not only for us but also for journalists based abroad, who will feel insecure.”
It should be noted that many journalists including Marvi Sarmad, Raza Rumi, Gul Bukhari, Sabir Shakir are living abroad due to various reasons.
Self-censorship will increase
Human rights organizations believe that press freedom in Pakistan is already high and now after this incident, self-censorship will increase further. Asad Butt, co-chairman of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, said that earlier there was a lot of self-censorship to the extent of media owners, now it will be up to journalists. He told DW, “Earlier, it used to be that a journalist would investigate a news story and later the bosses wouldn’t post or censor the news, but after this news of torture, journalists would be afraid to do investigative reporting.” And the tendency of self-censorship will increase among them.
The post-mortem report should be made public
Arshad Sharif’s post-mortem report is being discussed on social media and this report is also being circulated. When DW sent the report to a retired government doctor to inquire about torture, his reply was negative.
Asad Butt says that the government has not made the post-mortem report public so far, which gives the impression that there is something black in the dal. “If the government has no fear, it should make the report public immediately and the entire journalistic community should unite in demanding the government to make the report public.”
The Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists is also in favor of making the post-mortem report public. In this regard, PFUJ President Afzal Butt told DW, “We also found out through Kamran Shahid’s program that Arshad Sharif was tortured and since then there is a wave of concern in the entire journalistic community.” We have not yet received the post-mortem report. We demand the government to make this report public immediately.
Afzal Butt said that PFUJ is also writing to the Supreme Court regarding the murder of Arshad Sharif and regarding torture, it will also raise this issue at all levels. “But because there are many questions regarding Arshad Sharif’s murder and now the news of torture has also come. Therefore, a transparent investigation is necessary to answer these questions. Therefore, we request the United Nations and international organizations of journalists to pave the way for an international investigation in this regard.
It is a common perception in Pakistan that because journalists and journalistic organizations support different political parties, the news of Arshad Sharif’s murder and now torture has not been fully reacted to by the journalistic community. It should be noted that numerous journalists including Arshad Sharif, Imran Riaz Khan, Sami Ibrahim are considered supporters of PTI. While Absar Alam and Geo Group have been accused by their critics of being supporters of Nawaz Sharif.
However, Afzal Butt refutes this impression. “There are many cases where we have to take into account the wishes of the family of the late journalist and follow their advice. There are many mysteries in the murder, the man who was sitting in the driving seat has not yet given a statement. Apart from this, there are many other questions. But we were with the family from day one and we protested and held a conference. We will no longer remain silent on this issue of torture and will raise it on every platform.”
Mazhar Abbas seems to agree with this position of PFUJ. “Many questions remain unanswered. Therefore, the reaction of the journalistic organizations was also according to the same and they were waiting for the facts regarding this to come out.
Journalists will defeat fear
While human rights organizations believe that this incident created an atmosphere of fear among journalists, Mazhar Abbas is hopeful that the journalist community will break this fear. Journalists have faced many difficulties and dangers in the past. He was jailed, flogged and faced all kinds of hardships but he bravely faced all these challenges and I still believe that he is ready for all kinds of challenges.”