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Prosecute those threatening journalists, RSF tells Pakistan government

Points to hate campaign against BBC Urdu, Independent Urdu journalists

SAMAA | - Posted: Jan 15, 2021 | Last Updated: 6 months ago
SAMAA |
Posted: Jan 15, 2021 | Last Updated: 6 months ago

File photo: AFP

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Paris-based media watchdog Reporters Without Borders has asked the Pakistani government to take notice of an online hate campaign against BBC Urdu and Independent Urdu journalists and prosecute those who have threatened them. “Thousands of Pakistani Internet users have called for boycotts of these two Urdu-language services and have threatened their journalists in the course of a two-week-old hate and defamation campaign,” the RSF said in a statement. It said a “news and discussion site that supports Pakistan’s ruling party and armed forces” posted a video on January 2, accusing the BBC of pursuing an anti-government and anti-army editorial policy. Details of jobs, names and Twitter accounts of at least 10 BBC Urdu journalists were posted online over their editorials and op-ed pieces critical of the Pakistani authorities, the media watchdog noted. Asma Shirazi, a Pakistani journalist and a TV anchor, was among the journalists who came under attack on social media for their criticism of the government. She told the RSF that she was asked to be less critical, adding that the online hate campaign was part of a “grand design” to silence independent Pakistani journalists. The Independent Urdu, the Urdu service of another British media outlet, was the target of a “hate campaign” for not referring to dead soldiers as “martyrs”, the RSF said. An editor of the Independent Urdu, according to the RSF, confirmed to the Paris-based media watchdog that “his staff were concerned about this hate campaign”. Daniel Bastard, the head of RSF’s Asia-Pacific desk, said the online smear campaign against journalists was “unacceptable”. “Calling for journalists to be murdered, with the aim of intimidating and silencing anyone critical of the authorities, is completely unacceptable,” the RSF quoted him as saying. “We urge the federal government to disown such calls, and we ask the prosecutor’s office to initiate proceedings against all those responsible for these threats.”
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Paris-based media watchdog Reporters Without Borders has asked the Pakistani government to take notice of an online hate campaign against BBC Urdu and Independent Urdu journalists and prosecute those who have threatened them.

“Thousands of Pakistani Internet users have called for boycotts of these two Urdu-language services and have threatened their journalists in the course of a two-week-old hate and defamation campaign,” the RSF said in a statement.

It said a “news and discussion site that supports Pakistan’s ruling party and armed forces” posted a video on January 2, accusing the BBC of pursuing an anti-government and anti-army editorial policy.

Details of jobs, names and Twitter accounts of at least 10 BBC Urdu journalists were posted online over their editorials and op-ed pieces critical of the Pakistani authorities, the media watchdog noted.

Asma Shirazi, a Pakistani journalist and a TV anchor, was among the journalists who came under attack on social media for their criticism of the government.

She told the RSF that she was asked to be less critical, adding that the online hate campaign was part of a “grand design” to silence independent Pakistani journalists.

The Independent Urdu, the Urdu service of another British media outlet, was the target of a “hate campaign” for not referring to dead soldiers as “martyrs”, the RSF said.

An editor of the Independent Urdu, according to the RSF, confirmed to the Paris-based media watchdog that “his staff were concerned about this hate campaign”.

Daniel Bastard, the head of RSF’s Asia-Pacific desk, said the online smear campaign against journalists was “unacceptable”.

“Calling for journalists to be murdered, with the aim of intimidating and silencing anyone critical of the authorities, is completely unacceptable,” the RSF quoted him as saying.

“We urge the federal government to disown such calls, and we ask the prosecutor’s office to initiate proceedings against all those responsible for these threats.”

 
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Pakistan, journalists, threats, BBC Urdu, RSF, Independent Urdu, online hate campaign
 

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