Intruders took a computer, press cuttings, files and 4,000 rupees (55 euros) in cash on 12 March from the home of Rashid Channa in Karachi, the capital of the southern province of Sindh, where he is the correspondent of the Daily Star newspaper.
“This is not an ordinary burglary because the objects taken had no value,” Channa said. His view was supported by a member of the bureau of the Pakistani Federal Union of Journalists (FPUJ), who said: “We are also inclined to think this was harassment rather than theft. If it was theft, domestic items would have been taken, but this is not the case.”
Because of his investigative reporting, Channa was arrested at the behest of the Sind province chief minister last year and he suspects the provincial authorities may have been behind this week’s break-in.
Police harass Karachi reporter by arresting him for supposed murder attempt
Reporters Without Borders today condemned harassment of Rashid Channa, a senior reporter with the Dawn press group’s Karachi daily, the Star, who was abducted from his home by plain-clothes police on 24 July, held illegally for more than 12 hours and finally accused of attempted murder - all allegedly at the behest of senior members of the Sindh province government.
The press freedom organisation wrote to Sindh chief minister Arbab Ghulam Rahim asking him to comment on Channa’s case and to give orders for the harassment of him and other members of the Dawn group to stop.
Channa, who was picked up at midday on 24 July, said he was not told the official reason for his arrest until that evening, namely a complaint by a cleric called Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Chishtie accusing Channa of attempted murder.
Chishtie claimed that Channa and several other individuals stopped him in an alley on 23 July and threatened to kill him if he did not quickly settle his problems with his wife. Channa says he does not know Chishtie, who insisted that his reason for waiting before filing the complaint was fear for his safety.
The arrest of Channa, who covers the Sindh province government for the Star, was almost certainly politically motivated and the result of his criticism of certain Sindh government officials including the chief minister. "The Sindh government wants to keep me harassed by registering a baseless criminal case against me," he told Reporters Without Borders.
The Dawn group’s management claimed that the order to arrest Channa came from Mohammed Ali, the chief minister’s secretary.
Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists secretary general Mazhar Abbas told Reporters Without Borders that the only question which the authorities asked Channa while he was arrested was: "Why are you filing anti chief minister stories?"
A few weeks before his arrest, the Sindh government banned the placing of any of its advertisements with Dawn group newspapers.