Sami Abraham- a well-known television journalist from Pakistan and prominent supporter of the former prime minister Imran Khan, has been missing for the last couple of days.
BOL television- a Karachi-based independent news channel, and Abraham’s family say he has been abducted. The news was announced first in a tweet by the police late Wednesday.
Abraham has publicly opposed the current Prime Minister of Pakistan- Shehbaz Sharif, and a critic of the military which has ruled the country for half of its democratic existence.
Abraham’s brother- Ali Raza, filed a police report saying 8 unidentified people in 4 cars kidnapped Abraham from his car on his way back home from his work in Islamabad. The driver of Abraham’s car was left unharmed.
Just two weeks ago, Imran Riaz Khan- another journalist who is a supporter of the former Prime Minister Imran Khan, went missing. The Pakistani law enforcement denies having him in custody with them.
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ)– an American independent non-profit organisation that protects press freedom and journalists, says these disappearances made the committee “deeply disturbed”. Beh Lih Yi- CPJ’s Asia programme coordinator, says these journalists should be presented in court or released immediately by the authorities.
Pakistan’s journalists and the media community as a whole have also been demanding accountability from the killers of Arshad Sharif, a Pakistani TV news anchor who was shot dead in Kenya in October.
Sharif was in Kenya to avoid arrest due to multiple cases against him including sedition for saying things in his show that were considered offensive to the military. The Kenyan police opened fire on his vehicle in Nairobi, later apologising and calling it “a case of mistaken identity”
The journalists’ disappearances occurred after massive protests across the country due to Imran Khan’s arrest, who was released 2 days later after the supreme court called his arrest illegal. The government, however, cracked down on the protestors and has since arrested over 5000 people who are planned to be tried before military courts that are closed to media and other people.
The government of Shehbaz Sharif has put Imran Khan and his wife on a no-fly list and is considering a ban on Khan’s party- Tehreek-e-Insaaf. The Sharif-led government has started cracking down on any opposition to itself or its military. The iron hand of Pakistan’s government will only get stronger when the people who question it are either arrested or scared.