PAKISTAN: Arrest of media personalities 

The South Asian Free Media Association (SAFMA) is shocked to hear of the sudden and irregular arrest of SAFMA founding Secretary General Imtiaz Alam in Lahore, Pakistan, yesterday (November 5th, 2007) afternoon and, alarmed that Mr. Alam’s current location is not known and that the Pakistani authorities have, so far, not even acknowledged his detention. We, the Presidents of all national SAFMA Chapters in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, call on the Government of Pakistan to urgently acknowledge the custody of Imtiaz Alam and provide information of the circumstances of his arrest, the reasons for his detention and, the location of his detention. We also point out that Mr. Alam, one of Pakistan’s most senior and most respected media personalities, is currently in poor health – suffering from a heart condition as well as hypertension – and warn that the Pakistani authorities must assume responsibility for his continued physical safety and medical stability. We firmly insist that Mr. Alam be provided with immediate access to legal counsel of his choice and, all necessary medical care. We also expect that steps be quickly taken by the Pakistani authorities to either places legal charges against Mr. Alam and follow the normal legal process or, to release him from custody without further delay. We look to solidarity from global media rights organisations and networks and seek their support in this endeavour to clarify the arrest of Imtiaz Alam.

As the heads of national SAFMA Chapters and the being the collective leadership of the Association in the Region, we also note with concern the general adverse conditions for the Pakistani mass media under the enforcement of Emergency rule and urge the Government of Pakistan to refrain from attempting to muzzle or otherwise constrain the media of Pakistan and thereby deprive the citizens of their due right to information and facility of expression. We call on the Government of Pakistan to respect international standards of freedom of expression and information and media rights and, to desist from actions that suppress the functioning of media enterprises and channels.

We also express our concern that the current enforcement of Emergency rule in Pakistan is resulting in the widespread violation of human rights through the mass arrests of lawyers, rights activists and political activists, and journalists and other professionals. We do not feel that the suppression of political activity and the abuse of human rights and humanitarian norms will genuinely help attain the goal of order and stability that is claimed by the Government of Pakistan as the reason for the enforcement of Emergency rule.


Lakshman Gunasekara.     Presidents of SAFMA National Chapters.
President, SAFMA

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About AHRC: The Asian Human Rights Commission is a regional non-governmental organisation monitoring and lobbying human rights issues in Asia. The Hong Kong-based group was founded in 1984. The above statement has only been forwarded by the AHRC.

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Document Type : Forwarded Statement
Document ID : FS-040-2007
Countries : Pakistan,