PAKISTAN: An Open Letter to the media houses after receiving a threatening email from a journalist 

It is not unusual for human rights defender to receive death threats from persons, organisations or governments that do not agree with the stance that has been taken. However, when the threats come from a journalist it reveals the devastating plunge in the right to opinion and expression that has taken place in the country concerned. Journalists of all people have a duty to examine both sides of a story in order to ensure fairness in reporting. To do otherwise is to allow self -censorship and deny others the right to hold the opinion of their choice. Indeed, the society of Pakistan has degenerated to the point where even journalists of a particular point of view are not ready to even listen to another’s point of view and then resorts to threats.

It is sad that when even the section of the population that is considered to be intellectual and also thought to be the most balanced actors for judging the development of opinions has now fallen to the level where they have lost every aspect of tolerance towards different and opposing ideas. It is these very people that are supposed to be fighting against the forces that deny the freedom of expression not joining them.

A society cannot survive if the voice of dissent is crushed. It is for the media houses of the country to think about whether journalists have the duty to play the role of an extremist or become the moderate conscience of society. It must be asked as to whether the media houses have any criteria for the professional conduct of their journalists.

The following letter by the Asian Human Rights Commission was sent to the Editor of the Daily Ummat, Mr. Naseer Hashmi after a senior researcher of the AHRC received a death threat from one of the journalists of that newspaper.

The text of the letter and the threat by the journalist is copied below. Please also click the link given to read to the article concerned.

April 10, 2013

Mr. Naseer Hashmi — Editor
Daily Ummat
Room No.1, 1st Floor
Block numbe 4, Hockey club of Pakistan
Liaquat Barracks, Karachi,

FAXno; 92 21 3655275

RE: Life threat from your correspondent at Islamabad

Dear Mr. Naseer,

Following the article “PAKISTAN: Stupidity of the Ideology of Pakistan” which was issued by the Asian Human Rights Commission on April 8, 2013 the author of that article, Mr. Baseer Naveed who is a Senior Researcher of our organisation received the following threat from Mr. Aslam Butt, who claims that he is a correspondent of the ‘Daily Ummat’ at Islamabad. Mr. Butt has threatened that, “…..I would locate you one day and teach you such a terrible lesson on abusing our motherland that dwellers of Hong Kong would remember it for long”. The text of the email is copied herewith:

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Aslam Butt <>
Date: 8 April 2013 22:58
Subject: U are an established bastard~!!!
To: “” <>

Baseer Naveed;- You are indeed an established bastard who is ridiculing Pakistan while seated with English bastards of Chinese origin; can you or other minions like you could ever question the creation of the state of Hong Kong ; if you are damn opposed to the religion of Islam who stops you to become a Christian or a follower of the Buddhism; I wish Hong Kong could invent a time machine and take you to the past where you could marry your mother with an English man and then you could take rebirth as a Douglass, David or Jacob; while reliant on the charities of the anti Islam forces third rated minions like you cannot challenge the ideology of this country and indeed you are to be punished one day for having breached our patriotic sentiments or God willing I would locate you one day and teach you such a terrible lesson on abusing our motherland that dwellers of Hong Kong would remember it for long.
Aslam Butt
Correspondent Daily Ummat Karachi
in Islamabad.
and Correspondent Daily Urdu News Jehhad Saudi Arabia.
in Islamabad.

It is extremely disturbing that a correspondent from your esteemed organization is issuing threats to a person’s life and using your organization as a platform to do this.

Issuing threats against a person’s life is a matter of concern and one that, as a human rights organisation, we take extremely seriously. If the author of this email, Mr. Aslam Butt, or anyone else for that matter, takes exception to any of the comments or issues raised in the aforementioned article he has every right to make his comments and disagreement known. However, to resort to the type of language he has used in his email is not only criminal but also illegal and belittles his claim to be a professional journalist. We would therefore ask you if Mr. Butt sent this email with the consent and knowledge of your organisation. If he did not then we would like to know what action you intend to take against him.

We hope you will take appropriate action to dismiss the impression that your organisation supports such threats and await your earliest possible response.

Yours sincerely,

Danilo Reyes
Deputy Director
Asian Human Rights Commission

Document Type : Open Letter
Document ID : AHRC-OLT-007-2013
Countries : Pakistan,
Issues : Freedom of expression, Freedom of religion, Human rights defenders,