PAKISTAN: The leadership of Sindh Nationalist Front should be prosecuted for disrespecting the right to freedom of expression 

A journalist was attacked and seriously injured by office bearers of a political party, the Sindh Nationalist Front (SNF), on December 31, 2009, near the Hyderabad Press Club, Hyderabad City, Sindh province. A senior newspaper journalist, Mr. Mohammad Hussain Khan, was attacked and injured when he was on the way to the Press Club. He received injuries to his head and one of his fingers in the attack by two miscreants. They shouted abusive language at him as they thrashed him with an iron rod. The incident happened around midday.

This latest incident was the second attack on a journalist by the same party during 2009. The SNF is lead by Mr. Mumtaz Bhutto, a former chief minister and governor of Sindh province. The first attack was on January 1, 2009. Bhutto and his political party are notorious for violence against their opponents. They are particularly abusive towards freedom of expression.

In the first incident SNF party workers attacked the office of a local language newspaper, the Daily Awami Aawaz, of Karachi, Sindh. The attackers warned the staff of the newspaper that the attack was a ‘trailer’ and the ‘actual film’ will be shown later. According the First Information Report (FIR) filed they also threatened that if the newspaper writes anything against the leadership of the SNF they will face more serious attacks and further harm.

Different organisations, including those of journalists, protested against the attack on Mr. Mohammad Hussain Khan. Three accused persons were arrested but police have not completed their investigations into the case. It is suspected by many journalists that the delay in the investigation is because of the involvement of powerful feudal personalities of the province. It is indeed very shocking that a political-cum-feudal party is apparently more powerful than the law. That this party is able to undermine the right of freedom of expression and respect for the journalists in a country where a democratic government was restored after a long period of military rule is appalling. The police are using their old methods in the guise of an investigation to diffuse the anger of the journalists and different organisations who are protesting against the attacks on the media and journalists.

The delay in the investigation against the accused persons and the lack of proper inquiries in the case will only encourage the perpetrators, especially, the leadership of the accused political party to commit further crimes against the freedom of expression and the journalists.

The Asian Human Rights Commission urges the authorities of Sindh province to take strong action against the perpetrators and prosecute the leadership of the Sindh Nationalist Front (SNF) for disrespecting the right of freedom of expression by their attacks on media houses and journalists. The injured journalist, Mr. Mohammad Hussain Khan of Daily Dawn, must be provided with full medical treatment and compensation for his ordeal.

Document Type : Statement
Document ID : AHRC-STM-002-2010
Countries : Pakistan,
Issues : Freedom of expression,