ISLAMABAD: Islamabad police on Wednesday booked two more anchorpersons — Sabir Shakir and Moeed Pirzada — alongside another individual on charges of sedition and terrorism for their alleged involvement in the violence that engulfed the country on May 9.
The case was registered at the Aabpara police station more than a month after the violence at a complaint lodged by a citizen and includes sections 102, 121, 121-A, and 131 of the Pakistan Penal Code along with sections of anti-terrorism laws were added to the FIR.
The FIR claimed that on May 9, the complainant was present at Melody Chowk where an angry mob vandalised property, taking instructions from Sabir Shakir, Moeed Hassan Pirzada and Syed Akbar Hussain via video messages.
The complainant claimed that the persons named in the FIR incited people to commit violence and incited them to attack the installations of the armed forces, spread terrorism, provoke mutiny and create chaos in the country.
RSF terms mutiny allegations against journalists ‘absurd’; US calls on Islamabad to respect democratic principles
The case followed a similar FIR registered earlier this week wherein the police booked journalists Shaheen Sehbai and Wajahat Saeed Khan, as well as army officer-turned-Youtuber Adil Raja and anchorperson Syed Haider Raza Mehdi for “abetting mutiny” and inciting people to attack military installations across the country.
‘Possible death sentence on mutiny claims’
Separately, global media watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF) urged Pakistan to immediately dismiss the “ludicrous mutiny accusations in a complaint with no credibility” that an individual has brought against two journalists in the federal capital.
Although manifestly absurd, the charges could carry the death penalty, it said, adding that the two journalists accused of “abetting mutiny” in a complaint filed with the Islamabad police on 12 June are Wajahat Saeed Khan, a freelancer based in the US, and Shaheen Sehbai, a former newspaper editor.
“The statements made by the two former army officers on social media video channels may breach regulations governing military secrecy. But the two journalists have just practiced journalism,” the report said, adding that to “arbitrarily associates” the names of journalists with those of “rebel ex-army officers” meant to intimidate the journalists into silence.
The statement also mentioned the case of Imran Riaz Khan, a TV news anchor and political commentator who has been missing for more than a month.
‘Respect democratic principles’
Meanwhile, the US also urged Pakistan to respect democratic principles and the rule of law, noting that civilians arrested for May 9 protests in Pakistan will face military trials. “We are aware of the reports concerning civilians who will face military trials for their suspected involvement in the May 9th protest,” US State Department Spokesperson Mathew Miller told reporters in Washington on Tuesday.
“We continue, as we have in the past, to urge Pakistani authorities to respect democratic principles and the rule of law for all people as enshrined in the country’s constitution.”
Mr Miller said that the United States regularly discusses human rights, democracy, safety, the protection of journalists and respect for the rule of law with Pakistani officials at the highest levels. “That remains a priority for the United States,” he added.
Anwar Iqbal in Washington also contributed to this report
Published in Dawn, June 15th, 2023