Pakistan: Journalist Taha Siddiqui beaten by armed men, escapes abduction bid

Islamabad Police on Wednesday began an investigation into an attempt to abduct journalist Taha Siddiqui allegedly by 10-12 armed men.

Siddiqui was “beaten, threatened with death and his belongings taken,” said journalist Asad Hashim in a tweet.

Journalist Taha Siddiqui suffered bruises as he jumped from a moving vehicle in which he was abducted by armed men

Siddiqui posted a message via journalist Cyril Almeida’s Twitter account, recounting the details of the kidnapping attempt. He started the tweet by identifying himself and clarifying that he was using Almeida’s account.

Siddiqui went on to say: “I was on my way to [the] airport today at 8:20 am when 10-12 armed men stopped my cab [and] forcibly tried to abduct me.” Speaking to DawnNews, SP Tanveer reiterated that Siddiqui was in a private taxi when he was stopped by armed men.

Siddiqui was reportedly piled into a car by the armed men, but he managed to escape by jumping out of the moving vehicle.

The Dawn news quoted Superintendent Police Dr Mustafa Tanveer confirming that Siddiqui, who is the Pakistan bureau chief at World Is One News, approached police soon after the incident.

On 25 May 2017, Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) delivered a summon ordering Journalist and World Is One News Bureau Chief Taha Siddiqui to appear before them for questioning at its counter-terrorism department, despite a court’s order that they cease harassing him.

Earlier on 23 May, the Islamabad High Court passed a restraint order against the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) from harassing Siddiqui and also issued a notice to the director general and an official of the FIA. According to a petition filed by Siddiqui, FIA deputy director Noman Bodla on 18 May called him and asked him to appear in person at the FIA headquarters for interrogation. The petitioner alleged that the FIA official threatened him with consequences if he did not appear at the FIA headquarters.

Incidents of enforced disappearances have been reported with alarming frequency in Pakistan.

The 2017 World Press Freedom Index, prepared by an international media advocacy group – Reporters Without Borders (RSB) – ranked Pakistan 139th out of 180 countries survey for the report, even as the world observed on Thursday the “Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists.”

Pakistan was ranked 139th out of 180 countries. In 2016, Pakistan was ranked at 146th.

The RSB international index for press freedom places Pakistan among the most dangerous countries for journalists, along with the Philippines and Bangladesh. The freedom of the press and media is under high repression in Pakistan.

In its 2017 Global Impunity Index, the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has put Pakistan in 7th position out of a dozen countries which are worst in respect of accountability in cases of violations of press freedom, including the murder of journalists.

The CPJ Index spotlights countries where journalists are slain, and the killers go free.

Although Pakistan was not placed among the most dangerous countries last year, the CPJ had listed 60 journalists who have been killed in the country since 1994.

The CPJ reported stated that in Pakistan, perpetrators have been prosecuted in only two murders that have taken place in the past decade. An investigation that was reopened last year in the 2014 New Year’s Day murder of journalist Shan Dahar appears to be at a standstill.

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