Afrique Ameriques Europe Moyen-Orient Internet Nations unies
Pakistan 8 December 2003

France asked to intercede on behalf of threatened editor during Pakistan’s premier’s visit

As Pakistani Prime Minister Zafarullah Khan Jamali arrived on an official visit to France, Reporters Without Borders (Reporters sans frontières) today drew the French government’ attention to a campaign of intimidation since March against respected investigative journalist Amir Mir, who was fired as editor of the Weekly Independent as a result of pressure from President Pervez Musharraf.

In a letter to Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin, the organisation urged him to intercede on Mir’s behalf during the Pakistani prime minister’s 8-9 December visit.

Unknown persons set fire to Mir’s car on 22 November and shots were fired outside his home in Lahore, in the eastern province of Punjab. The government denied any involvement in these incidents, although they followed a long series of threats and acts of harassment against Mir by senior military and civilian officials, including information minister Rasheed Ahmed and the head of military intelligence in Punjab, Arslan Ali Khan. Mir was also accused by Gen. Rashid Qureshi of being an "Indian agent" because of an article he wrote in the Indian magazine Outlook.

Now the deputy editor of the Herald, an English-language monthly, Mir told Reporters Without Borders he feared for his life: "I am now being conveyed friendly messages to leave Pakistan... I’ve already told my near and dear ones that if any harm is done to me, Gen. Musharraf should be directly held responsible... I am really concerned about the safety of my family."

Dozens of journalist demonstrated in support for Mir on 7 November in Islamabad.

The recent acts of intimidation came after President Musharraf told a meeting of leading newspaper editors on 20 November that the editors of the Herald and the monthly Newsline had not been invited because they published articles that damaged Pakistan’s international image.

In response to a question about the presence in Pakistan of Dawood Ibrahim, the reputed member of an Indian crime organisation, Musharraf said certain Pakistani newspapers published harmful reports that supported Indian allegations and therefore damaged Pakistan’s national interests. The August and November issues of the Herald carried investigative reports by Mir on this matter.

When he was still the Weekly Independent’s editor Mir publicly alleged on 18 March that he had received threats from the Punjab state security minister, a former head of Pakistan’s secret service, the ISI. Mir was forced to resign from this post on 13 June after several months of pressure to change his editorial line.

The Weekly Independent claimed that President Musharraf himself chaired a meeting in Lahore at which it was decided to take concrete measures against the magazine, including the withdrawal of all government and state sector advertising. Mir wrote in 12 June editorial that it was not easy to keep a newspaper going in a country where the army dominates politics and the security forces call newspaper editors and owners to tell them what they can and cannot publish.

In this country
26 May - Pakistan
Video on plight of Swat valley journalists
26 May - Pakistan
Joint open letter from the IFJ and RSF to the President regarding threats made against journalists
15 May - Pakistan
Emergency funds for journalists who have had to flee Swat valley fighting
12 May - Pakistan
Journalists flee Swat valley en masse
6 May - Pakistan
Media in danger in Swat valley

in the annual report
Pakistan - Annual report 2007
Pakistan - Annual report 2006

4 May 2009 - Nepal
Mission report : A call to end violence and impunity
2 April 2009 - Pakistan
Fact-finding visit by Reporters Without Borders to Swat “valley of fear”
16 March 2009 - Afghanistan
Report of fact-finding mission : Press freedom in free-fall in run-up to presidential election

Asia archives
2009 archives
2008 archives
2007 archives
2006 archives
2005 archives
2004 archives
2003 archives
2002 archives
2001 archives
2000 archives

Asia press releases
3 June - North Korea
Pyongyang judges asked to be lenient with two American journalists
3 June - Afghanistan
US forces arrest a journalist in Khost
3 June - China
“Tank Man” photo displayed outside Chinese embassy in Paris on eve of Tiananmen Square massacre
2 June - China
Blocking of Twitter, YouTube, Flickr and Blogger deprives Chinese of Web 2.0
2 June - Sri Lanka
Press freedom activist badly beaten in Colombo, hospitalised