Pakistan rejects report of 'cracking down' on dissidents abroad

Published August 10, 2021
The Foreign Office says claims in the report appear to be a part of rather “blatant on-going misinformation campaign” against Pakistan to malign the country and its state institutions. — File photo
The Foreign Office says claims in the report appear to be a part of rather “blatant on-going misinformation campaign” against Pakistan to malign the country and its state institutions. — File photo

Pakistan on Tuesday “categorically rejected” a foreign media report claiming the country was cracking down on dissidents abroad, with the Foreign Office terming such accusations baseless.

The FO, responding to the report published in The Guardian, said there was no question of any threat being made to any national of any state including Pakistan’s own nationals living anywhere on any pretext whatsoever.

The report had claimed that exiled Pakistanis who were critical of the military had been warned by UK authorities “that they will be targeted”.

“Pakistan, a strong UK ally — particularly on intelligence issues — might be prepared to target individuals on British soil,” the story alleged.

The Guardian report also featured a statement from Mark Lyall Grant, the former UK high commissioner to Pakistan, who said: “If there is illegal pressure, in particular on journalists in the UK, then I would expect the law enforcement agencies and the British government to take notice of that and to make an appropriate legal and/or diplomatic response.”

The report also noted that a man was charged in London last month with conspiring to murder political activist Ahmad Waqass Goraya in the Netherlands.

It also said political analyst Ayesha Siddiqa had received an Osman warning from the Metropolitan Police — a warning named after a case from the late 90s. The warning was issued by British authorities who believe there is a death threat to the prospective victim.

Reacting to the claims carried in the report, the Foreign Office spokesperson, Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri said that the unsubstantiated allegations appeared to be part of the rather “blatant on-going misinformation campaign” against Pakistan to malign the country and its state institutions.

The spokesperson insisted that Pakistan is a parliamentary democracy with a “vibrant civil society, free media and independent judiciary”, which remains fully committed to promotion and protection of human rights for all its citizens without discrimination.

“Our strong commitment to the right to freedom of opinion and expression is demonstrated by presence of scores of vibrant media channels and newspapers in the country,” said the statement.

The Foreign Office rued that the provision of a platform for peddling of unsubstantiated and false narratives against Pakistan by any news outlet was “regrettable”.

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