While speaking to Voice of America (VOA), Pakistani journalist Hamid Mir hinted at the role of the Pakistan army and its Intelligence agency ISI in masterminding the abduction of fellow journalist Matiullah Jan. At the very onset, Mir accused the Inspector General (IG) of deliberately not appearing before the Supreme Court of Pakistan in a bid to avoid furnishing the CCTV footage which indicates the role of ‘non-civilian authority’ in the forced disappearance of the journalist.
“IG did not come to Court because he knew that the Chief Justice will ask him to produce the footage of safe city cameras. In the footage, it is clearly visible that Matiullah Jan was abducted from outside a school by people who were dressed in police uniform. They had even used a police car for the operation. They wanted to give the impression that it was executed by the cops. However, the Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG) has refuted claims of any police involvement in the case. According to my information, the civilian government, civilian agencies or the Islamabad police have no role in his abduction.”
Involvement of ‘non-civilian authority’
Hamid Mir informed that he was too unsure about the role of ‘non-civilian’ authority in the forced disappearance of Matiullah Jan, until segments of his show were ‘censored’ by those who have been ‘historically’ accused of executing such abductions. “The last segment of my show was about Matiullah Jan wherein I talked with Ijaz Shah since he was the first to retrieve the CCTV footage. … First, they edited the opening remarks about the journalist’s disappearance. Then, I learnt that more such cuts are being made to the show. And this was done on the behest of a non-civilian authority… The story became crystal clear to me… The accused are those who have been involved in such incidents even in the past.”
Hamid Mir laments about declining press freedom
He explained how the not-to-be-named agency is imposing censorship on Geo News. Mir stated, “They have put Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman behind bars through NAB. Now they use him as a bargaining chip. They call up the Editor-in-Chief and direct them to censor inconvenient things… This is the state of press freedom in Pakistan. When I was attacked, I had named 3 people who I believed was responsible for the attack. And guess what? They never appeared before the court. If you were innocent, then, you could have and argued in court.”
Hamid Mir explains the ‘vulnerability’ of Pakistanis
“Everyone is vulnerable in Islamabad, including bureaucrats, politicians, ministers and opposition leaders. You can come and abduct anyone you want in a police uniform. The cops will deny it and the IG will not disclose the CCTV footage. As such, you have shamed Pakistan all over the world. Earlier, a Minister had made a mockery and now the security agencies are making a mockery of this country,” Hamid Mir concluded.
The abduction of Matiullah Jan
A vocal critic of Pakistan army, Matiullah Jan, was kidnapped on Tuesday, 21 July, from Sector G-6 in Islamabad. Reportedly, he was blindfolded and taken to an unknown location. As per reports, he was driven around the Capital city before being released in an abandoned area in Fateh Jang some 12 hours later. His wife Kaneez Sughra said, “There were more than five people — some in civilian clothes, others in black uniforms — who forcibly picked up my husband.”
CCTV footage of journalist Matiullah Jan being taken away. Enforced disappearances are used by Pakistan as a weapon to silence dissenters. From Saleem Shahzad, Umar Cheema to Matiullah, it continues with impunity. #BringBackMatiullah pic.twitter.com/lkdeFUD3gr— Naila Inayat नायला इनायत (@nailainayat) July 21, 2020
Matiullah Jan worked as a freelance journalist and has been written for domestic and international media outlets.
The abduction came a day before he was set to appear before Pakistan’s top court, where he is facing contempt proceedings over a tweet which was critical of Pakistan’s judges and military. His wife had stated that Jan was being pressurised not to attend the court hearing and plead for forgiveness.