ISLAMABAD: A letter purportedly from the Federal Investigation Agency has been doing the rounds on social media according to which an inquiry has been ordered against five journalists for displaying pictures of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi ahead of the Saudi Crown Prince’s visit to Pakistan.
According to the letter dated March 13, 2019, journalists named Matiullah Jan, Murtaza Solangi, Azaz Syed, Ammar Masood and Umer Cheema displayed “a picture of murdered journalist Jamal Khoshogi on their social media profile DPs which conveyed a very disrespectful message to the visiting dignitary/ guest.
Interestingly, it also named political commentator and blogger Ahmad Waqqas Goraya among the journalists. Mr. Goraya was among the four bloggers who went missing in January 2017.
Muhammad Bin Salman was in Pakistan on a two day visit (February 17-18). He has been under fire for his alleged involvement in the murder of Saudi Journalist Jamal Kashoggi. Mr. Kashoggi was allegedly murdered by Saudi operatives in Istanbul Consulate on October 02, 2018.
As an act of protest, some social media users and journalists displayed picture of Mr. Khashoggi ahead of Saudi dignitary’s visit in Pakistan. However, the letter accused them of being part of a”targeted social media campaign” and noted that they remained active till the very last day of the visit.
Apart from journalists, inquiry against four have organizations have also been ordered namely Majlis-e-Wahdat Muslimeen, Imamia Students Organization, Tameer-e-Watan Party, Islamabad and Hizbut Tahrir. According to the letter, “these groups/ party’s members were found most active on social media against Muhammad Bin Salman’s visit to Pakistan.”
DRM reached out to FIA to confirm the authenticity of the letter but did not hear back from them till the writing of this report.
Meanwhile, DRM also talked to one of the journalists named in the list Azaz Syed. According to him, he has not heard anything from FIA regarding this inquiry at this point.
Many Journalists and activists condemned this notification on social media.
Murtaza Solangi, who was also one of the journalists named in the letter, questioned how could putting display picture of a journalist be deemed illegal.
So the shameful govt of @ImranKhanPTI has a problem with putting the picture of slain journalist #JamalKhashoggi on your twitter profile and considers it against the law? Come arrest me, you shameless creatures. pic.twitter.com/4YJIirSKgB
— Murtaza Solangi (@murtazasolangi) March 27, 2019
Journalist Matiullah Jan also confirmed in his video message that they did not hear back from FIA. He noted that the letter was part of internal communication between Ministry of Interior and FIA but expressed annoyance about how this constituted a violation of law.
وزیر داخلہ عمران خان کو اپنے ماتحت ادارے ایف آئی اے سے صحافیوں کی انکوائری صرف اس معاملے پر کروانی چاہئیے جس پر وضاحت ، پوچھ گچھ یا پریس کانفرنس کے دوران خود حکومت یا ایف آئی اے کو سہاگ رات والی دلھن کی طرح شرمانا نہ پڑے- pic.twitter.com/26KDMDQzdW
— Matiullah Jan (@Matiullahjan919) March 28, 2019
Renowned analyst Ejaz Haider called it an “utter nonsense”.
what utter nonsense is this, FIA Cyber Crime Wing? are we living in a totalitarian regime? unacceptable #BOLLOCKS
this is a free country, dammit. put this notification in a pipe and smoke it. pic.twitter.com/fpzFxfAiuI
— EH (@ejazhaider) March 27, 2019
Fahad Desmukh from Awami Workers Party had similar views.
Apparently it’s illegal in Pakistan to use Jamal Khashoggi’s face as your Twitter profile picture because it hurts the feelings of Saudi crown prince MBS. But murdering journalists is fine. https://t.co/zg8Fw0qB28
— Fahad Desmukh (@desmukh) March 27, 2019