Pakistani journalist critical of government seized outside home

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Pakistani journalists chant slogans during demonstration to condemn the arrest of their colleague Rizwan-ur-Rehman Razi, in Lahore, Pakistan, Saturday, Feb. 9, 2019. (AP)
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Osama Rizi, son of a journalist Rizwan-ur-Rehman Razi, displays a calendar with the pictures of his father outside his residence in Lahore, Pakistan, Saturday, Feb. 9, 2019. (AP)
Updated 09 February 2019
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Pakistani journalist critical of government seized outside home

  • Pakistani journalists say they face an increasingly hostile climate since the vote last year that saw Prime Minister Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) take power
  • Government officials say Pakistan has an independent media and the military denies pressuring journalists

LAHORE: A Pakistani journalist under scrutiny for anti-government social media posts was beaten and seized outside his home on Saturday, his son said, in the latest sign of pressure on media.
Rizwan Razi, who worked for private Din TV in the city of Lahore, was being investigated for “defamatory and obnoxious” comments about the judiciary, government and intelligence services, according to Pakistan’s law enforcement agency.
However, there was no official confirmation he had been arrested.
“My father went out of home to see off friends,” his son Osama told Reuters of the incident on Saturday morning.
“When the friends left, unknown persons, riding a black Honda Civic car, thrashed and dragged him in the car and fled away ... I ran after the car but could not do anything.”
Pakistani journalists say they face an increasingly hostile climate since the vote last year that saw Prime Minister Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) take power.
A report from the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), dated Saturday and seen by Reuters, said Razi had previously been questioned about his Twitter comments. It said authorization had been granted to register a case against him.
His account @RaziDada appeared to be offline on Saturday.
FIA officials in Lahore referred questions to the main office in Islamabad, where officials could not be reached.
Khan’s government replaced the party of ousted former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who was at odds with the powerful military and is currently serving a seven-year prison sentence for corruption.
The increased official pressure has come at a difficult time for the media in general as advertising revenues have plunged and newsroom budgets been slashed.
Government officials say Pakistan has an independent media and the military denies pressuring journalists.
In a separate case, Ammar Ali Jan, an academic also based in Lahore, was arrested over his involvement in a protest at the death of Arman Loni, a regional leader of the Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement. He was later released on bail.
A message on Ammar’s Facebook page on Saturday said he was taken at 4 a.m. “I am a law-abiding citizen and will not be deterred in the fight for justice,” it said.
Police official Azhar Naveed confirmed the brief detention and bail, which followed other arrests over the protests earlier this week. He said Ammar was charged with taking part in a rally, blocking a road and making “anti-state” speeches.


Arab News at 44: Online Pakistan edition has formed its own regional identity

Updated 20 April 2019
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Arab News at 44: Online Pakistan edition has formed its own regional identity

  • Arab News expanded its footprint entering Pakistan in mid 2017
  • Its Pakistan Edition was founded on February 2018 and has been a major success

ISLAMABAD: Arab News’ online Pakistan edition, which launched on Feb. 8, 2018, has established itself as a credible extension of the Riyadh-based newspaper, which today marks its 44th anniversary.
Arab News entered Pakistan as part of the newspaper’s ongoing global and digital expansion, and to tap news from other parts of Asia, hiring skilled journalists and freelance contributors.
An exclusive interview in October 2018 with Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, who was newly elected as prime minister at the time, catapulted Arab News in Pakistan.
Realizing the news potential in the country, Arab News capitalized on its success and set up a bureau, but not before landing more special reports that grabbed the local media’s attention and attracted a larger readership.
The website www.arabnews.pk became the parent organization’s first in a series of country-specific online editions that the newspaper is planning to launch, and is part of its “more digital, more global” strategy.
Former Minister of Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry, who on Thursday was appointed minister for science and technology, officially inaugurated the newspaper’s Pakistan bureau earlier this year.
Led by award-winning veteran journalist Baker Atyani, and under the guidance of Arab News Editor-in-Chief Faisal J. Abbas, the team at the Pakistan edition has worked diligently to penetrate the country’s vibrant news market.
As such, followership of the newspaper’s Pakistan social media account has quickly ballooned.
Its online coverage of the first visit of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to Pakistan in February was widely praised.
Arab News published special reports and features on the deep-rooted and diversifying ties between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.
Also a major hit was Abbas’s exclusive, lengthy sit-down with President Dr. Arif Alvi during the crown prince’s visit.
Another exclusive that garnered a serious online buzz was on Egyptian billionaire Naguib Sawiris offering to build 100,000 housing units in Pakistan.
The Pakistan edition has kept a special focus on business and finance, and has spoken with movers and shakers, including those in the corridors of power.
In August 2018, it exposed the ruling party’s hit single “Rok Sako To Rok Lo Tabdeeli Aayi Re,” produced for the last general election, as being suspiciously similar to a remixed version of the Indian religious song “Bankya Maa Re Nach. The report was instantly picked up by Pakistani media.
Days before the election, Atyani conducted a one-on-one exclusive with Prime Minister Imran Khan.
Arab News’ Pakistan edition is part of the regional publishing giant Saudi Research and Marketing Group (SRMG). With the edition’s success, the SRMG is looking to replicate the model across Asia.