Monday, September 6, 2010

JIP Letter to the President and the PM -- State Torture to Journalist condemned

Mr Asif Ali Zardari Most Urgent

President of Islamic Republic of Pakistan
President’s Secritariat
Islamabad, Pakistan

Syed Yusuf Raza Gillani
Prime Minister of Islamic Republic of Pakistan
Prime Minister’s Secretariat
Islamabad, Pakistan

NO: 786/A-2/OPS
Dated: 5 Sep 2010

Subject: Kidnapping and torture to Journalist Omer Cheema


I hope that letter of mine will find you in the best of health and prosperity. I expressed with grave concern that an investigative journalist , Omer Cheema was, reportedly, kidnapped by some personnel of intelligence agency from I/8 sector , Islamabad. He was allegedly taken a secret place. Cheema was resorted to severe torture and third degree methods were applied on him. It Is believed that some of Omer Cheema’s blatant reports , have infuriated and attracted the anger of some state institution. Journalists For International Peace strongly condemned the kidnapping and severe torture to the working journalist of Daily The News.

Mr President and Mr Prime Minister , Journalists For International appreciated the prompt reaction of the government , especially Federal Minister for Information,Mr Qamar uz Zaman Kaira, in which he pledged to identify the criminals and ensure exemplary punishment , as a “TEST CASE’.Pakistan is considered as one of the most dangerous country for the working journalists , more than 40 journalists are killed in the recent past years. The alleged involvement of any state agency in kidnapping and torture of media people , tarnishes the image of that country in the international circles. The countries , where Freedom of expression is curtailed by force, can never grow economically and their progress is checked. It is observed that intolerance against Media and journalists in the present government is increased manifold . Media has strong reservations about federal and provincial governments. Such incident of harassment and torture may remain unchecked , if any practical step is not undertaken to curb the menace.

I think that Parliament may take stern action against the culprits. Three chiefs :ISI, MI and IB may be called infront of the parliament under the aegis of the Chief of Army Staff , General Ashfaq Pervaiz Kiyani. They may be directed to identify the criminals from their ranks, if the torture is conducted by the intelligence personnel. It is also believed that such torture incident is aimed at tarnish the positive role of Pak Army, which is deployed in flood affected areas to rescue and provide immediate relief to wretched people of Pakistan. The whole nation supported General Kiyani in the war against the terrorists , in Swat and Waziristan .

To open war against own journalists, by a state or segment of state machinery, may always prove counter productive. Omer Cheema maintained that there is a possibility that the incident is provoke by his news report on Military Commandos, who refused to attack Lal Masjid and subjected to be court-marshaled , without giving any right of appeal. It is in the national interest, to take immediate action against the culprits, to avoid a permanent tussle between state institutions.

It is also proposed that respective intelligence agencies or their spokesman, may start briefing sessions for the journalists on variety of such matters which are taken as secret under the garb of national security. I hope that both the leaders may take strict punitive action against the culprits, to save the sanctity of Freedom of Expression, which is a constitutional obligation too.


Iftikhar Chaudri
Journalists For International Peace
Islamabad, Pakistan

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