Following attacks on offices, Dawn editor alleges ‘orchestrated campaign’ against newspaper

Protesters hold a demonstration against an independent newspaper 'Dawn' outside newspaper's office in Islamabad on Dec. 6, 2019. (AP)
Updated 08 December 2019

Following attacks on offices, Dawn editor alleges ‘orchestrated campaign’ against newspaper

  • Government officials deny complicity as protesters twice this week besieged Dawn’s Islamabad bureau 
  • Attacks followed reporting by Dawn that London Bridge attacker was of “Pakistani origin”

KARACHI/ ISLAMABAD: The editor of Pakistan’s leading English language newspaper on Saturday said recent attacks by protesters on the daily’s offices were an “orchestrated campaign” against the country’s newspaper of record, which has a history of strained relations with authorities. 
Protesters twice this week besieged Dawn's Islamabad bureau, chanting slogans against the media group and setting copies of the newspaper on fire for reporting that a man who killed two people in a stabbing spree on London Bridge last month was of “Pakistani origin.” 
Critics, including a number of government officials, have since called the newspaper ‘unpatriotic’ and the report a mala fide attempt to link to Pakistan a man who was born and had spent his life in the United Kingdom. 
Dawn editor Zaffar Abbas told Arab News London Bridge attacker Usman Khan was identified as being of Pakistani origin in the same way as London mayor Sadiq Khan or champion boxer Amir Khan, both of whom were born in the UK to British-Pakistani families. 
"We were accused of writing something anti-state, as according to them [critics], the attacker had nothing to do with Pakistan,” Abbas said, adding that the news report had not suggested the attacker was radicalized in Pakistan or that Pakistan was complicit in the attack.
"Even in the past we had referred to people like the London Mayor Sadiq Khan or boxer Aamir Khan as of Pakistani origin, although they were born in Britain and are UK nationals,” Abbas said. 
"In the larger context, this [protests] can be seen as yet another attempt to silence Dawn, and force it into self-censorship-- something that we have tried to resist so far," Abbas said.
A journalist working for Dawn was charged last year with treason after an interview with former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in which Sharif accused the military of aiding militants who had carried out the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks. Last month, Dawn’s Abbas was awarded the 2019 Press Freedom Award by the Committee to Protect Journalists.
On Saturday, the body of the 28-year-old London Bridge attacker was laid to rest in his ancestral village in Pakistan’s Azad Kashmir.
“All I can say is that after the latest development where the body of the London attacker was brought here and buried in an AJK village, this sinister campaign against Dawn should stop,” Abbas said.
"Prime Minister Imran Khan yesterday said he fully supports media freedom. We expect the prime minister to intervene in the matter, and in the light of the latest development, take measures to stop calls for violence.”
"We have no way to identify the protesters but to us, it looks like an orchestrated campaign against Dawn," Abbas said. "Everyone has a right to disagree with Dawn’s journalism, and even to protest against us. But calling us anti-state, making demands that we be hanged, burning our effigies, amounts to incitement to violence. This should immediately stop." 
Government officials denied that the protests were planned or sponsored by the state or its agencies. 
“The government has nothing to do with these protests. Why would the government do it? If anything happens which is not liked by the people, they come out to protest. This happens everywhere in the world, even in western countries,” ruling party senator Shibli Faraz, the leader of the house in Pakistan’s senate, said. “But again, I would say the protest should be peaceful.” 
Earlier, Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari said on Twitter that though she often disagreed with Dawn’s editorial line, she condemned the protests. 
A government spokesman could not be reached for comment.


Indonesia repatriates red-notice fugitive to Pakistan

Updated 23 January 2020

Indonesia repatriates red-notice fugitive to Pakistan

  • Muhammad Luqman was living under a fake identity in North Sumatra
  • He was suspected of committing two murders and was named in five different cases in his home country

JAKARTA/KARACHI: The Indonesian police on Thursday repatriated a Pakistani fugitive who had been living in Asahan district of North Sumatra for the past two years and was arrested by the authorities on Tuesday.
The 34-year-old man, identified as Muhammad Luqman Butt, alias Husein Shah or M. Firman, was flown from Medan to Jakarta, where he was handed over to the Pakistani police in the presence of officials from the Pakistan embassy, Secretary of the National Central Bureau of Interpol, Indonesia, Brig. Gen. Napoleon Bonaparte told Arab News.

This photograph released by Tribunnews shows Muhammad Luqman Butt's Indonesian identity card, top, bearing the name M. Firman with his photo and citing Asahan as his place of birth, and his driver’s license. (Photo courtesy: Tribunnews)

“We received the red notice from the Interpol that he was on the wanted list. We detected that he was in North Sumatra, so the Pakistani police coordinated with us and we cooperated with our colleagues in the province to arrest him on Tuesday,” Bonaparte said.
However, he refused to confirm the offense Butt had committed, saying it was not the jurisdiction of Indonesian police to probe the Pakistani fugitive further.
According to police sources in Pakistan, Luqman had five different cases registered against him in three different police stations of the eastern city of Gujranwala. He was suspected of committing two murders, and the Pakistani authorities had announced a bounty of Rs200,000 ($1293) on his head.
“We did what we had to do as part of our commitment to being a member of Interpol. We detected, located, arrested, and handed the fugitive over to his home country’s law enforcement officials,” Bonaparte said, adding that he hoped his Pakistani counterparts would extend the Indonesian police the same cooperation should an Indonesian fugitive was detected to be on the run in Pakistan.

Source: Punjab Police

National Police Spokesman Brig. Gen. Argo Yuwono told Arab News that Butt was arrested on Tuesday from his rented house in Asahan where he had been living with his 33-year-old Indonesian wife, Evi Lili Midati, for the past five months.
Both the fugitive and his wife had been detained at the North Sumatra police headquarters in Medan. During questioning, Butt confessed to have murdered a family in his home country.
“He has been in Indonesia for the past two years and was living in Asahan for the last five months with his wife whom he had married in Medan a year ago,” Yuwono said.
He entered the country from Malaysia on a wooden boat and had traveled to different parts of Indonesia before he decided to settle in Asahan where he worked as a driver, having obtained an Indonesian driver’s license with his fake identity.
The police seized from Butt’s residence his Indonesian identity card bearing the name M. Firman and citing Asahan as his place of birth, a driver’s license, and his marriage certificate.