Two Pakistani journalists detained for objecting to police raid on press club

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) calls for the immediate release of two Pakistani  journalists who have been detained because they objected to a police raid on the press club in Dera Ghazi Khan, a city in Punjab province, during an opposition press conference.

Sher Afgan Buzdar, a journalist with the Bol News TV channel who is the press club’s president, and Ghulam Mustafa Lashari, a reporter for the Daily Ausaf newspaper and president of the Anjuman-e-Sahafyan (Union of Journalists), were detained on 7 May for objecting to the police raid during a press conference by supporters of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), the party of imprisoned former Prime Minister Imran Khan.

“Jailing these two journalists for protesting against this police intrusion is unacceptable. It is clearly a roundabout reprisal, a punishment for allowing an opposition political party to give a press conference at the press club. All of the media in Pakistan have been subjected to repeated pressure not to cover this party as a result of a censorship order issued at the highest level. We call for the immediate release of the two journalists and we urge the police not to interfere in the press club’s activities.

Célia Mercier
Head of RSF’s South Asia desk

RSF's representative in Pakistan has seen videos of the raid in which the police order the local PTI leaders to stop their press conference, and the two journalists, Buzdar and Lashari, then object, shouting: “You are violating the sanctity of the press club.” At the request of the police, the deputy commissioner issued orders for the two journalists to be detained for 30 days from 7 May under the law on maintaining public order.

“These two journalists are in jail for the simple reason that they tried to uphold the sanctity of the press club, where everyone is allowed to speak out and express their grievances against anyone, including the government,’ Lashari's son, Asfan Junaid Lashari, told RSF. 

Farid Khosa, the acting president of the Dera Ghazi Khan press club, told RSF that the police were using pretexts to justify the detention of the two journalists. “In reality, the police are unhappy with the fact that the press club allowed leaders of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf to use its premises,” he said.

Police surrounded the press club in Quetta, the capital of the southwestern province of Balochistan, on 18 May to prevent a Balochi group from holding a press conference about enforced disappearances.

Pakistan is ranked 152nd out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2024 World Press Freedom Index

152/ 180
Score : 33.9
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