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Pakistani journalist Matiullah Jan abducted in Islamabad

Pakistani journalist Matiullah Jan abducted in Islamabad

Matiullah Jan went missing on Tuesday, his wife Kaneez Sughra confirmed to DW. He disappeared outside an Islamabad school where she works. Sughra said she heard men scuffling outside the school. "I tried calling him, but his phone wasn't working," she added.

When the guard at the school told her that Jan's car had been parked outside for two hours, she said she realized something was wrong. "The doors of his car were open and the keys were still inside," she told DW. "I could see from the car that he was taken forcibly."

In a telephone interview with The Associated Press, Jan's younger brother, Shahid Akbar Abbasi, said at least 10 heavily armed men in three vehicles intercepted Jan soon after he arrived to pick his wife up around 11 a.m. local time (0600 UTC).

Jan's colleague Asad Toor said several men had surrounded Jan's car during the abduction.

The Reuters news agency reported closed-circuit television cameras at the school showed Jan being bundled into a car after being cornered by what appeared to be a police vehicle, an ambulance and an unmarked car.

'Act of cowardice'

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan condemned the abduction, calling it "an act of cowardice."

Read more: Is the space for critical thinking shrinking in Pakistan?

Amnesty International South Asia said it was "extremely concerned" about Jan's well-being and called on the Pakistani authorities to "establish his whereabouts immediately," noting the journalist had suffered violence and harassment for his work in the past.

Jan has previously been the target of attacks. In 2017, rocks were thrown at the car he was driving near the capital, Islamabad.

Critical media voice

He was fired from his position as an anchor at Waqt Television in 2018, reportedly under pressure from the military, which he had criticized. He has since maintained a presence on YouTube and other social media platforms.

Pakistan's Supreme Court earlier this month issued a contempt of court notice to Jan for a tweet critical of the judiciary. He was expected to appear in court within the next week.

Read more: Pakistan's new internet laws tighten control over social media

Earlier on Tuesday, Jan tweeted a video of an interview with another journalist, writing: "This is for the attention of those who sit in the simulated air-conditioned environment of rule of law in Pakistan and who think criticism on them is a bigger crime than the violation of the inviolable dignity of a human being."

Read more: Mir Shakil-ur-Rehman: Why Pakistan's media mogul is behind bars

This is an updated version of a previous article.

jlw,dr/msh (dpa, Reuters)


Updated : 2021-01-20 12:46 GMT+08:00