Saturday, September 25, 2010

Pakistan Attacks Critical Journalists

According to this New York Times article, Pakistan's military and intelligence agencies routinely threaten, arrest and torture journalists who displease them.
An investigative reporter for a major Pakistani newspaper was on his way home from dinner here on a recent night when men in black commando garb stopped his car, blindfolded him and drove him to a house on the outskirts of town.

There, he says, he was beaten and stripped naked. His head and eyebrows were shaved, and he was videotaped in humiliating positions by assailants who he and other journalists believe were affiliated with the country’s powerful spy agency.

At one point, while he lay face down on the floor with his hands cuffed behind him, his captors made clear why he had been singled out for punishment: for writing against the government. “If you can’t avoid rape,” one taunted him, “enjoy it.”
If you think about it, it's not all that surprising. Rarely does the Pakistan press carry articles that put the military or the intelligence agencies (mostly the I.S.I) in a bad light. In fact, the opposite is true, there are way too many articles that praise the military to the sky: they can do no wrong, the only worthwhile institution Pakistan has, give it all the money it needs, etc. Why?
One reason for the deference, according to a Pakistani intelligence official who has worked with the media cell of the ISI, is that the agency keeps many journalists on its payroll.
Again, not surprising. Some journalists took the money willingly. Some, I'm sure, were forced to take it after being threatened, knowing full well they could be blackmailed later on.

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