Yet another journalist falls prey to ‘unprecedented media gag’

ISLAMABAD: In a move apparently aimed at gagging the critics of the government, prominent anchorperson Jameel Farooqui was arrested in Karachi for purportedly making “false claims” of torture on Shahbaz Gill, chief of staff to former prime minister Imran Khan, against Islamabad police.

Gill was arrested after appearing earlier this month on ARY News in Karachi when he allegedly incited troops and officers to “mutiny”. During the broadcast, Gill, a known critic of the military, said soldiers and officers should refuse to obey “illegal orders” from the military leadership.

In a statement on Monday, the Islamabad police — which derisively referred to Farooqui as a “YouTuber” in a series of tweets announcing the arrest it has since deleted — said he was taken into custody after a case was registered against him at the Ramna police station in the capital.

In its article, The News, widely understood to be sympathetic to the Sharif family, also called Farooqui, long associated with Bol TV, a “YouTuber”.

According to the statement, the journalist, in a YouTube video, had accused the Islamabad police that ti inflicted medieval torture on Gill.

The police had indicated action against those making “inflammatory, fabricated and false allegations” against it, the statement recalled.

Interestingly, Karachi police have pleaded ignorance about the matter. Zaman Town station House Officer (SHO) Zahid Lodhi said that local police had not arrested Farooqui.

Farooqui’s arrest embodied “unprecedented censorship” of the press under Shehbaz Sharif, the prime minister, Fawad Chaudhry, senior vice president of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), said.

Media organisations, journalist unions and campaign groups have denounced the trend as a serious threat to press freedom in Pakistan.

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