ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Wednesday took strict notice of forceful entry by armed men into private news channel anchorperson Shiffa Yousafzai’s residence in the federal capital.
Former minister and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Ali Haider Zaidi had tweeted about the news yesterday, saying Yousafzai had “just called to inform that two armed men broke into her house, beat up her servants, asked about the family, searched the house and left”
Expressing deep concern over the incident, Zaidi had said “it is a very alarming situation.”
Another PTI leader, Asad Qaiser had also condemned the incident “in very strict terms”, saying “no matter how hard the imported government tries, it cannot silence the truth.”
Journalist Moeed Pirzada had tweeted saying “a female journalist, television anchor, prominent critic of the [Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz] PML-N and [Pakistan Democratic Movement] PDM government living with her parents in the centre of Islamabad not far from PM House being intimidated in this way means [it is the] ‘Age of Fascism'”.
President Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) also condemned the “harassment, abuse and character assassination” of the journalist by PML-N workers.
Meanwhile, the capital police (ICT) issued a statement saying that the police officials were present on the scene and provided “appropriate security” to the journalist yesterday.
Later, the ICT had updated that Yousafzai was “safe and well” and that an investigation was underway.
The Prime Minister’s office (PMO) today issued a statement stating “we strongly condemn the incident” and added that “protection of people’s lives and property is our first and foremost responsibility”.
The PM expressed solidarity with Yousafzai and her parents while directing the accused to be traced and punished according to the law.
The PMO has directed IG Islamabad to submit a report of the incident.
Earlier this month, Shehbaz had said media freedom and democracy reinforced each other and expressed his government’s resolve to support an environment for journalists free of intimidation and harassment.
“My government believes that no journalist or human rights activist should be called out in the line of duty,” he had said, expressing his firm resolve to proactively facilitate the implementation of the Journalists Safety Law.
Addressing at an event to mark 10 years of the United Nations’ Plan of Action organised by the Journalist Safety Forum (JSF), the premier termed free media and freedom of expression the important pillars of a State.
At the event, Chairperson JSF Hamid Mir had also called for taking journalists out of the purview of online expression through laws, such as, the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act (PECA) or other regulations and emphasised support by the federal and provincial governments against attacks, intimidation and harassment of female journalists.