Interior Ministry reaches out to journalist who escaped abduction

* Freedom Network and Bytes for All have approached the National Commission for Human Rights

LAHORE: Federal Minister for Interior Ahsan Iqbal’s office has reached out to Taha Siddiqui – Islamabad-based journalist who escaped abduction attempt by at least 4 armed men earlier this month – and assured him of full support.

Talking exclusively to Daily Times, Siddiqui said the minister’s office expressed their sympathies and were concerned about the prevailing sense of fear amongst the journalist community.

“I’m looking forward to my meeting with the minister where I’ll brief him of the prevailing climate of for independent journalism,” he said. “How can a journalist report independently with fear like that especially in the election year?”

Taha Siddiqui said that the interior minister’s involvement indicates government’s seriousness to address the issues of enforced disappearances and attack on freedom of press. “Earlier only procedural things were being done,” Siddiqui added.

The Opposition Leader in the National Assembly (NA) Syed Khurshid Shah had also invited Siddiqui to meet and discuss his attempted abduction and issues related to press freedom.

“The opposition leader assured the concerns that I have raised will be echoed on the floor of the house and has also been promised a parliamentary committee to probe the incident”, he said.

“The discussion regarding the missing persons was also a part of it. It started with how Salman Haider was abducted and then Raza Khan was also mentioned,” he said. “I told the opposition leader how I was covering Raza Khan’s disappearance in Lahore”.

The police under a special committee headed by SP Mustafa Tanveer continues the probe without any breakthrough, 9th day into the incident.

Meanwhile, Taha Siddiqui, Iqbal Khattak of the Freedom Network and rights’ group Bytes for All have filed a joint petition in National Commission for Human Rights demanding action. They haven’t heard from the commission yet.

The goal, Siddiqui said, was to move all organs of the state and have a fair investigation into this incident that happened in a broad day light.

Published in Daily Times, January 20th 2018.