After Facing Harassment from Authorities, Pakistani Journalist Narrowly Escapes Abduction

Taha Siddiqui WION Pakistan Bureau Chief Escapes Abduction Attempt

Pakistani journalist, Taha Siddiqui known for criticising his country's military establishment, claimed on Wednesday that he had narrowly escaped being kidnapped by armed men, in an incident that came months after he complained of being harassed by security services.

A prominent Pakistani journalist, a vocal critic of Pakistan's powerful military, today said he was beaten and threatened with death by almost a dozen unidentified armed men who tried to abduct him. The WION News journalist, who managed to escape by jumping out of the moving vehicle, is now safe and at Koral police station. "I was on my way to airport today at 8:20am when 10-12 armed men stopped my cab & forcibly tried to abduct me".

Shortly after the incident, Siddiqui tweeted from Dawn correspondent Cyril Almeida's Twitter account as his own phone had been taken by the attackers.

"This is Taha Siddiqui (@TahaSSiddiqui) using Cyril's (account). Looking for support in any way possible #StopEnforcedDisappearances", Siddiqui wrote.

"They were cordoning off the road, armed with rifles, and the men who pulled me out of the vehicle, they had small weapons, pistols", Siddiqui told Al Jazeera. He has been roughed up and all his belongings, including his phone and passport have been taken.

He also referred to the frequent kidnapping of journalists in Pakistan whenever they criticised the Pakistan's military.

Last year, five Pakistani bloggers went missing for several weeks before four of them were released. Safe and with police now.

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Wearing a blood-flecked shirt and muddy pants, Mr Siddiqui said that although he had "no proof" of the involvement of the intelligence agencies, he believed that the incident mirrored others. Journalism is not a crime, but attacking journalists is.

Pakistan was ranked 139th out of 180 countries.

According to the report, Siddiqui was reluctant to appear at the FIA headquarters in fear of harassment during interrogation.

Journalists and journalists' unions and civil society organizations have made statements in support of Siddiqui and pushing to end enforced disappearances in the country.

In 2017, three other journalists, Rana Tanveer, Matiullah Jan, and Ahmed Noorani were attacked by unknown assailants.

In May previous year, the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) had issued a notice to Siddiqui, known for posting comments on social media against the military, and asked him to appear before its counterterrorism wing.

Pakistan is regarded by media watchdogs as one of the most risky countries for journalists, with risks from authorities and jihadist groups.

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