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Pakistan 29 July 2002

A managing editor threatened and kidnapped by the intelligence services in Karachi

Reporters Without Borders today criticised the Pakistani intelligence services for waging a campaign of intimidation against the country’s independent press in recent weeks and called on the government to stop it. The organisation’s secretary-general, Robert Ménard, pointed to the harassment since 16 July of Muzaffar Ejaz, managing editor of the Urdu-language Karachi daily Jasarat, who was kidnapped by Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI) officials for several hours and threatened with reprisals if he continued to criticise the government of President Pervez Musharraf. "The secret services have no business at all interfering in the relationship between the state and the media," Ménard said in a letter to information minister Nisar Memon. "The Pakistani media has a history of resisting pressure from the authorities. It is time Gen Musharraf’s government realised that intimidation will not work."

Military officers and secret service agents focused their attention on Ejaz after his paper printed an article on 16 July detailing a plan by the military government to unify the different factions of the Pakistan Muslim League in the run-up to forthcoming general elections. The day the article appeared, as ISI officer came to see the editor and asked him where he got the information for the article. Ejaz refused to say but suggested printing the army’s version of the affair. The officer was not interested in this and warned that he could "use plenty of other methods" to find out who the sources were. Since then, Ejaz has had threatening phone calls and been followed by ISI agents. Two other journalists, including Zarrar Khan, the Associated Press correspondent in Karachi, have received threats for supporting Ejaz, who was kidnapped for several hours on 24 July by ISI agents who repeated the threats.

In May, journalists on the daily paper The News, including Rauf Klasra, were put under surveillance and threatened by ISI agents.

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