High Treason Case Filed Against Journalist Absar Alam
Jhelum police have registered a case against senior journalist former Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) chairperson Absar Alam over ‘high treason’.
In a first information report (FIR), Khursheed Alam, a lawyer based in Jhelum, accused the journalist of using ‘derogatory language’ against state institutions and Prime Minister Imran Khan on social media. He asked that the ex PEMRA chief be charged under 131 PPC, 124A, 505, 499, 20 PECA, and Section 6 (high treason).
— Asad Ali Toor (@AsadAToor) September 11, 2020
According to a BBC Urdu report, the application seeking registration of a treason case against Alam was filed many months ago, but it was pending at the prosecution department. The case was registered after the prosecution department approved treason charges in the FIR.
Speaking to BBC Urdu, Ansar Alam said he would go initiate legal proceedings in the case after discussing this with his lawyer. According to the ex-PEMRA chief, he will no compromise on his fundamental rights, such as freedom to express and speak.
Alam was named as the PEMRA chairman in Oct 2015 on the recommendation of then prime minister Nawaz Sharif. However, he had to quit the post after a petition was filed at the Lahore High Court challenging his appointment. Subsequently, the LHC declared his appointment illegal.
Reacting to the development, the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalist (PFUJ) condemned the sedition case against Absar Alam and sought immediate withdrawal of the FIR.
In a statement, PFUJ President Shehzada Zulfiqar and Secretary General Nasir Zaidi warned that such concocted case and malicious trend against the journalist community seems to be an agenda being followed by the current government and those elements who always been against freedom of speech and media.
According to The News, they urged the government to immediately withdraw FIR against Absar Alam which clearly indicates that falls cases are being registered against vocal journalists and mediapersons.
The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) issued a statement denouncing the treason case against Alam. It said: “HRCP condemns the filing of a sedition case against renowned journalist and former chairman PEMRA #AbsarAlam. We believe this is yet another attempt by the government to silence any voices of dissent and curb freedom of expression.”
In a tweet, academic and political activist Ammar Ali Jan said: “Solidarity to @AbsarAlamHaider & @bilalfqi. The sedition law was used by British to suppress patriots during anti-colonial movement. This govt is using it against dissidents. We are also facing sedition charges for #StudentsSolidarityMarch. This colonial law will not deter us.”
Journalist Asma Shirazi wrote: First, arrests of the journalist Bilal Farooqi and now sedition case against @AbsarAlamHaider indicate that there is no room of freedom of expression left in Pakistan. Government must act and stop harassment of journalists. #BringBackBilalFarooqi #AbsarAlam.”