The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) is deeply concerned about recent attacks and threats against Amir Mir, senior assistant editor of the English-language monthly the Herald.
In what appears to be a campaign of intimidation, in June Mir was forced to resign as editor of the Weekly Independent, a Lahore-based, English-language newspaper, under pressure from local government officials who accused the paper of running articles that were "against the national interest" and of having an "anti-army policy." Mir then went to work for the Herald, a magazine known for its critical articles about your administration.
Mir says that during the last few months, he has continued to receive threats from government officials who ordered him to stop writing against the army and told him that Your Excellency was personally angry with him for his articles about the military.
On November 21, local Pakistani newspapers reported that Your Excellency allegedly made critical comments about the Herald in a meeting with a group of newspaper editors on November 20. According to local news reports, you accused the magazine of "damaging our national interest."
On November 22, three unidentified assailants set fire to Mir's car, which was parked in front of his house in Lahore. Mir says he received a phone call on November 23 from a member of the Inter-Services Intelligence government security agency telling him that this was "just the beginning."
In response to criticism of these attacks against Mir, on December 4, Information Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed denied that Your Excellency had made the reported critical comments and reaffirmed Pakistan's commitment to press freedom, saying that the government would "safeguard and protect freedom of the press as it believes that a free and vibrant media are essential for the consolidation of democracy."
As a nonpartisan organization of journalists dedicated to defending our colleagues worldwide, CPJ respectfully asks Your Excellency to fulfill your pledge to respect the rights of journalists to safely and freely report the news without fear of harassment or reprisal from government officials. We will continue to monitor events in Pakistan closely to ensure that Mir and other journalists are not threatened or intimidated for their reporting.
Thank you for your attention to this urgent matter. We await your response.
Ann K. Cooper