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Pakistan journalist escapes kidnap attempt

Bureau chief for Indian-based news outlet points finger at Federal Investigation Agency

Pakistan journalist escapes kidnap attempt

Pakistani journalist Taha Siddiqui speaks at a press conference after being assaulted by armed men in Islamabad on January 10, 2018. (Photo by Aamir Qureshi/AFP)

January 11, 2018

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A journalist, critical of Pakistan’s powerful military establishment, says he narrowly escaped abduction Jan. 10 after armed men stopped his taxi in Islamabad.

Taha Siddiqui, country bureau chief for the India-based World in One News, later recounted the ordeal at a press conference at the National Press Club in the federal capital.

“I was on Islamabad highway when a car stopped right in front of my taxi. Suddenly a few armed people emerged and pushed me back in the car, hitting me. One of them said we shall teach you a lesson,” said Siddiqui, wearing a torn bloodstained shirt.   

“Realizing nobody was standing on right side of the car, I pushed the door open and started running through heavy traffic,” he said.

“I took another taxi but my nervous driver shortly asked me to get out. Later I had to hide in bushes. My escape is a miracle,” he added.

He then accused the powerful  Federal Investigation Agency of having threatened him and his family, stopping short of directly accusing the agency of trying to abduct him.

Siddiqui, who won France's highest journalism award the Albert Londres prize in 2014, appealed to the country’s prime minister for help in a tweet on Jan. 11.

Pakistan is among the world’s most dangerous countries for journalists ranking at 139 out of 180 countries according to latest annual report from France-based watchdog Reporters Without Borders.

At least 117 journalists have been killed in the past 15 years in Pakistan

Father Morris Jalal, founder and program director of Lahore-based Catholic TV expressed concern at the increasing restriction of freedom of speech and expression in Pakistan.

“Agencies crack down on a person when they cannot silence him. The murders of journalists are barely punished. Social media is helping us in speaking out against injustices,” the Capuchin priest said Jan. 11.

 

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