Pakistani scribe Bilal Farooqi arrested for allegedly defaming Army
A Pakistani journalist was taken into custody by police from his residence in Karachi after he allegedly posted social media posts criticizing the Army.
Farooqi, who is a news editor at The Express Tribune, was “arrested by the station investigation officer (SIO) of defence police” from his residence in the DHA area, said Karachi police chief, Additional Inspector General Ghulam Nabi Memon.
Fellow journalist Ebad Ahmed said Farooqi had been taken into custody from his house by “two men in plainclothes accompanied by two policemen”. Later, the police visited the residence again and Farooqi’s wife was also detained at a police station in DHA. “Police have taken possession of Bilal’s phone,” Ahmed added.
According to the FIR against Farooqi, the complainant, Javed Khan, who is a machine operator at a factory and is a resident of Majeed Colony in Landhi area, said he visited a restaurant in DHA Phase-2 Extension on September 9, during which he checked his Facebook and Twitter accounts. It was then he found “highly objectionable posts” against the Pakistan Army which were posted by Farooqi on both platforms and the material was aimed at allegedly spreading religious hate.
Khan alleged that the journalist had “defamed” the Pakistan Army and these social media posts could be used by enemies for their “nefarious designs”.
Meanwhile, the Karachi Union of Journalists (KUJ), released a statement saying that “that the arrest of Bilal was part of the nefarious and concerted campaign to gag the free and independent voices”.
“Farooqi, an active journalist who also remained executive committee of the KUJ, has been an educated and responsible youth, who never indulged in any kind of violation of Pakistani laws”.
“His only crime is that he dissents with ruling elites and raises his voice for the betterment and a progressive society,” KUJ President Ashraf Khan remarked in the statement.
The body’s secretary-general, Ahmed Khan Malik, has demanded the immediate release of Farooqi. “We demand the withdrawal of false charges against Bilal, and he must be released immediately,” he said.
Farooqi’s arrest is the latest in a series of arrests of Pakistani journalists who have been vocal critics of the army.
Earlier in July, a journalist named Matiullah Jan was abducted for his critical views on Pakistan’s military establishment. He was subsequently released hours later.