Pakistani journalist seized in Islamabad

Pakistani journalist seized in Islamabad

MATIULLAH JAN. Image from YouTube.

Matiullah Jan is bundled into the back of a car outside a school in Islamabad, where he had come to see his wife

A well-known Pakistani journalist who has long criticized the military and judicial establishment was seized in broad daylight by uniformed men in Islamabad on Tuesday, July 21, and taken to an unknown location, his wife said.

Matiullah Jan, a freelancer who has worked for numerous local and foreign media outlets, was bundled into the back of a car outside a school in the capital, where he had come to see his wife.

“There were more than 5 people — some in civilian clothes, others in black uniforms – who forcibly picked up my husband,” Kaneez Sughra, told the Agence France-Presse (AFP_ in a phone interview.

Security footage captured by the school where Sughra teaches shows several men force Jan into a sedan outside the main gate.

The footage shows Jan toss a mobile phone over the school fence, only for a school security guard hand it back to a man in uniform.

An Islamabad police spokesman said officers had begun gathering information in the case.

The military’s media department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Sughra said her husband had been followed by unknown men in recent weeks. In 2017, an unidentified assailant threw a brick at his car.

Jan’s disappearance came a day before he was set to appear before Pakistan’s top court, where he was facing contempt proceedings over a tweet many saw as critical of Pakistan’s judges and military.

Pakistan routinely ranks among the world’s most dangerous countries for media workers, and reporters have frequently been detained, beaten and even killed for being critical of the government or powerful military.

In a statement, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan called for Jan’s safe release.

“We are deeply concerned at increasing attempts to control the media, suppress independent voices, and curb political dissent, thereby creating an environment of constant fear,” the commission said. –