Pakistan faces international pressure over charges against journalists
Reporters Without Borders have called for the dismissal of charges against two journalists in Pakistan that could potentially result in the death penalty. Wajahat Khan and Shaheen Sehbai, both residing in the United States, were accused in relation to nationwide protests that occurred on May 9 following the arrest of former Prime Minister Imran Khan.
“The complaint alleges that the journalists conspired against the military and supported terrorism. It claims that protesters viewed the social media accounts of the two journalists and two former officers critical of the army. Reporters Without Borders denounced the charges as an attempt to silence the journalists and urged the Islamabad prosecutor’s office to dismiss the complaint.”
“The United States also expressed concern over Pakistan’s military trials targeting individuals involved in the May 9 protests. The State Department emphasized the importance of respecting democratic principles and the rule of law, urging Pakistani authorities to adhere to these principles outlined in the country’s constitution.”
“Wajahat Khan, a prominent freelance journalist, revealed that he had received threats against his mother in Pakistan from a high-ranking official. He expressed his disbelief at the accusations, stating that they were baseless and absurd. Khan emphasized his dedication to reporting from Pakistan’s frontlines, including working alongside the military that the charges falsely claim he seeks to divide.”
“Shaheen Sehbai, former editor of The News, highlighted the increased reliance on social media among Pakistanis due to the government’s crackdown on traditional press. He noted that authorities were attempting to suppress voices from abroad.”
“The arrest of former Prime Minister Imran Khan triggered thousands of protests across Pakistan, with demonstrators directing their frustration towards the military, which has historically held significant power in the country. Imran Khan, who is seeking a political comeback, faced corruption allegations and was detained for three days. The subsequent wave of arrests targeted individuals involved in the protests.”