Dec 26, 2008

IJF Condemns Death Threats Against Pakistani Journalist Ansar Abbasi

IJF Condemns Death Threats Against Pakistani Journalist Ansar Abbasi


( - International Justice Forum (IJF) of America's
Human Rights Foundation (HRF) has strongly condemned death threats,
harassment and defamation campaign against Pakistani Journalist Ansar
Abbasi - Investigations Editor of The News International based in
Islamabad, Pakistan - and demanded that all those PPP and JUI-F
ministers/officials, who have illegally harassed, threatened and
defamed Mr. Abbasi in any way, must resign immediately from the ruling
PPP, MQM, ANP, JUI-F coalition Government of Pakistan.

The IJF warned that if PPP Disinformation Minister Sherry Rehman
failed to stop the ongoing harassment, threats and defamation against
Journalist Ansar Abbasi, then international legal actions will be
taken against all corrupt politicians of PPP, JUI-F and other anti-
press gangsters in the PPP-MQM-ANP-JUIF junta of war criminals by the
IJF to defend the constitutional, human and journalistic rights of Mr.

The IJF - a powerful group of journalists, lawyers and other
professionals based in Fairfax, Virginia, USA - also warned that if
state terrorism of the PPP, MQM, ANP, JUI-F regime against the free
press, independent media and freedom of the press will continue, then
the IJF will declare PPP, MQM, ANP and JUI-F as terrorist
organizations and place these four extremist gangs of Pakistan as well
as their crime mafia politicians on the anti-terrorism lists of the
United Nations (UN), the U.S. Department of State (USDOJ), the
European Union (EU), The Commonwealth (TC), the International Criminal
Court (ICC), The International Police Organization (INTERPOL), the
Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), and the League of Arab
States (LAS).
- HRF:
- IP:
- MPF:

Ansar Abbasi Facing Death Threats

By Rauf Klasra

Islamabad, Pakistan, 25 December 2008 (The News International) - Top
[Pakistani] journalist Ansar Abbasi, whose investigative stories in
recent weeks brought many powerful people of the country, both judges
and politicians, to their knees, is now facing death threats.

He has already brought these shocking threats to his life to the
notice of the top management of the Jang Group of Newspapers.

He received these threats from different quarters, including those
associated with the ruling [PPP, MQM, ANP, JUI-F] coalition after he
exposed the wrongdoings of the powerful and mighty. Some relevant
quarters in the [PPP] Government - who have a soft corner towards
Ansar because of his ruthless style of exposing corruption of
politicians, generals, bureaucrats and religious leaders alike - have
now finally shared the shocking information with one of the close
relatives of Ansar, who has been informed that some disgruntled
elements, who had become victims of his hard-hitting stories, would
possibly try to eliminate him.

Ansar confirmed that he had been advised by friends and acquaintances,
and even by his readers and viewers, to be careful but only recently a
clear warning had been issued from within the [PPP] Government's fold
and by those who had sympathy with him. However, true to his
temperament, despite friendly advice, temptations and persuasion,
Ansar had refused to give up his investigative stories following the
best traditions of bold journalism.

Ansar Abbasi, Editor (Investigations), The News [International],
Islamabad, explained that he was warned through one of his close
relatives that his life is under threat and he should be careful in
his movements, as some people are out to harm him in the days to come
as he had caused immense embarrassment to many in the [PPP] regime by
exposing their corruption and wrongdoings.

"I have already given some names to my family who should be directly
held responsible in case any harm comes to me," Ansar told this
correspondent. Recently, Ansar had invited the wrath of a political
group when he, for the first time, published a scandal in The News
about how the [Pakistan Army] GHQ had doled out agricultural lands to
relatives, friends and staff of a [JUI-F] religious leader [Fazl ur
Rehman] from the NWFP. When Ansar was following the earthshaking story
about this land allotment scam, even some of his close friends had
advised him not to do so as these people might not tolerate his
professionalism and take refuge behind religion to harm him. But Ansar
did not stop and continued to file the stories till the time those
lands, which were leased to close associates of a [JUI-F] religious
leader [Fazl ur Rehman], were cancelled and taken over by the
provincial government.

Ansar dropped a second bombshell when he exposed the "scam of the
decade" about the daughter [Farah Dogar] of the [illegal] Chief
Justice of Pakistan [Abdul Hameed Dogar] when she was secretly given
additional marks by the Islamabad's Federal Board to enable her to get
admission to a medical college on judges quota. The story has become a
major issue within and outside Parliament to the embarrassment of both
the [PPP] Government and the [unlawful] Chief Justice of Pakistan.

As this was not enough, Ansar Abbasi recently filed another story on
the mega scam of Rs 60 billion in the making, which further hurt the
financial interests of many top guns of the [PPP] Government.

Unfortunately, instead of reacting to Ansar's stories by way of
issuing clarifications, rebuttals, or even availing the legal course,
third rated tactics of harassment have been adopted.


Group Editor Writes To Govt.

Karachi, Pakistan, 25 December 2008 (The News International) - On
behalf of The News [International] and the Jang Group of Publications,
Group Editor of The News Shaheen Sehbai on Wednesday strongly urged
the [PPP] Government to take immediate note of the death threats and a
campaign of vilification launched by some vested interests and
sections of the [PPP-MQM-ANP-JUIF] Government against [Pakistani
Journalist] Ansar Abbasi, Editor Investigations of The News, for
publishing stories exposing important persons and institutions.

In a letter sent to [PPP] federal Information Minister Sherry Rehman,
copies of which were sent to the [PPP] President [Asif Ali Zardari],
the [PPP] Prime Minister [Yousaf Raza Gillani], the Chief of Army
Staff [Ashfaq Parvez Kayani], the NA Speaker [Fehmida Mirza] and the
Chairman Senate [Mohammedmian Soomro], heads of intelligence agencies,
all [four] governors and [four] chief ministers, and international
media watchdog bodies, Sehbai asked the [PPP] Government to provide
protection to Abbasi and end the harassment campaign in which some
[PPP] Cabinet ministers and supporters of the [PPP] Government had
also become actively involved.

Ansar Abbasi had recently written a number of stories including the
scam of military lands [illegally] given to the JUI-F, the case of
Farah Hameed Dogar and the housing project which involved Rs 60
billion, which embarrassed the [PPP] Government and other
institutions, including the [Pakistan] Supreme Court.

Following is the text of the letter sent by [Journalist] Shaheen
Sehbai to Sherry Rehman, [PPP] Minister for Information:

Dear Madam: This is to bring to your kind notice that one of our most
well respected and reputed colleagues, and senior journalist, Mr.
Ansar Abbasi, who is Editor Investigations of The News
[International], who has recently published a number of important and
sensitive investigative stories, has suddenly become the target of an
organised and well orchestrated campaign of vilification and character
assassination launched against him. Mr. Abbasi has been seriously
advised by his friends and sympathisers in the [PPP] Government
circles that there might be threats to his life on account of the
series of his exposes which may have recently upset many powerful and
highly placed people in the country.

An unsigned three-page letter addressed to the Chairman, Federal Board
of Revenue, but widely circulated both through Internet, e-mail and
fax messages, declares Mr. Abbasi as the "most corrupt blackmailer", a
charge which is not only preposterous but outrageous, for anyone
including you, who has known or worked with Mr. Abbasi in the long 18
years of his career. Regrettably, even a federal minister of the
present [PPP] Government joined this vilification campaign on Monday
last when on a PTV talk show he started associating Mr. Abbasi with
one of the alleged characters involved in the Khanani & Kalia money-
changers scam, without any proof or any authentic evidence. This is
simply condemnable and unacceptable.

On another level, the former Press Secretary to the [PPP] Prime
Minister, Zahid Bashir, who was sacked because he tried to influence
Mr. Abbasi not to expose the Farah Hameed Dogar examination marks
scandal, has now publicly started throwing accusations and invectives
against Mr. Abbasi. He claims to still be a good friend of the [PPP]
Prime Minister but he made the [false and malicious] charges against
Mr. Abbasi on a private television channel. It is also evident that
some of the known writers and columnists, who are always ready to sell
their souls to every and any government, have started writing columns
viciously attacking Mr. Abbasi on his views, his appearance and his
professional work, because none of them can find an iota of any
unethical behaviour or misconduct by Mr. Abbasi in his professional or
private life. These shady characters in the [Pakistan] media now
associated with the current [PPP] rulers have even dubbed Mr. Abbasi
as a "media militant", because they themselves have never practised
honest and objective journalism without fear or without getting
favours. Any honest work which exposes those in power obviously
appears to them as militancy. A top leader of JUI-F, a partner in the
ruling [PPP, MQM, ANP, JUI-F] coalition, ridiculously and, of course,
nonsensically, described Mr. Abbasi as a member of the Jewish lobby.

Madam, Mr. Abbasi is known for his impeccable credentials and his
integrity, and does not require any certificate from anyone to prove
this. He is known to every journalist and his colleagues throughout
the 18 years of his spotless professional career. The News and the
Jang Group take strong exception to involvement of your [PPP]
Government ministers, [PPP-MQM-ANP-JUIF] coalition partners and
friends of top elected officials in this vilification campaign. We
believe there are strong indications that this campaign against Mr.
Abbasi has blessings of the [PPP] top leader [Asif Ali Zardari] or
leaders of your [PPP] Government.

Though some of the stories which Mr. Abbasi has filed may not have
been liked by your [PPP] Government, he has the right to freedom of
expression as enshrined in the Constitution of Pakistan, specially as
all his stories have been fully documented, have been confirmed by
official records and official persons, and have stood the tough test
of credibility and fairness. He has never misquoted anyone, never used
libelous language, or tried to defame anyone. He has only reported
facts, duly substantiated by evidence and official records. This is,
in fact, the basic job of every journalist of which Mr. Abbasi has
been a shining example.

Aware of the threats being hurled at Mr. Abbasi, we are taking all
necessary measures that would not only ensure the safety of our Editor
Investigations but also save him from any kind of harassment. We are
also considering initiating legal proceedings against all those who
have tried to malign an important member of our [news media]

We, however, expect from the [PPP] Government to look into this matter
seriously and take all necessary measures to ensure that not only Mr.
Abbasi is not physically or mentally harmed, harassed, or threatened,
but that he is able to continue to work freely and is able to perform
this duties without any obstruction or threat from any official or any
government quarter. It would be stating the obvious that it is the
primary duty of the government to protect the life and property of
every citizen, and also to provide him security from threats and
harassment. I expect that your [PPP] Government will perform this
basic duty in the specific case of Mr. Ansar Abbasi.

I must emphasise that in Mr. Abbasi's case, members of your [PPP]
Cabinet and the [PPP] Government as well as its known media supporters
have become active part of this vilification campaign and thus if any
harm was to come to Mr. Abbasi, fingers will directly be pointed at
these elements, including the [PPP] Government. With years of
journalistic experience behind you, and with my long years in
journalism, we know who has felt the pinch of Mr. Abbasi's
investigative stories, be it the [illegal] Chief Justice of Pakistan
[Abdul Hameed Dogar], [JUI-F] politician Maulana Fazl ur Rehman, their
supporters in top offices of the [PPP] Government, or those having
personal or business interests in dubious projects. But reporting
these factual stories is what an independent media is supposed and
required to do. It is Mr. Abbasi's and our right, and we will continue
to perform this duty to the state and the nation.

I urge you, as the minister directly responsible for media relations,
to persuade your colleagues in [PPP] Government to refute facts if
they can, admit their wrongs if proved, correct their course if needed
and not to resort to threats and harassment or launch vilification
campaigns against journalists. The [PPP] Government must provide full
protection to the media, as it should to all citizens, against these
not so veiled attempts at character assassination and threats.

I am making this letter to you public only in the interest of bringing
it on public record as I consider the threats and the campaign against
Mr. Abbasi as a very serious matter which needs urgent attention, and
action by all concerned in Pakistan and at the international media
watchdog level.

Internet-Web Links:

(1) Sooper Media:

(2) DW:

(3) IFJ:

(4) CPJ: -- RSF:

(5) 2 Web-EMail Newsletters:

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