Umar Cheema

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Letters   |   Pakistan

CPJ calls on Pakistan to act on pledged commitments to press freedom

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif: We are writing to express our deep concern about the deteriorating climate for press freedom in Pakistan, which undermines recent commitments made by your government during CPJ's mission to the country.

Blog   |   Pakistan

When Pakistan's largest news channel becomes the news

Today, Pakistan's most watched news channel, Geo News, was ordered off the air and fined by the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA). Earlier this week, CPJ documented an attack on Zafar Aheer, an editor of the Urdu-language Daily Jang, by six masked men--the latest in a series of attacks, threats, and acts of intimidation reported by staff working for the Jang/Geo group. 

Blog   |   Pakistan

A verbatim threat from Pakistan, and more

Here is a cut and paste email message sent to staffers at The News, in Islamabad. We have their explicit permission to use it. Actually, they requested that we use it, in the hope that publicizing it will somehow protect them.

Blog   |   Pakistan

In Pakistan, no taxation without investigation

In Pakistan, reporting on the military intelligence services or insurgent groups or machinations within political parties is the normal grist for the media mill. A lot of the coverage relies on reporters with inside sources. The sources use the media as a battleground for their infighting, relying on sympathetic reporters to put forward their positions. It keeps the wildly popular TV talk show hosts occupied and tends to fill the inside pages of newspapers, if not always the front pages. It's not a problem unique to Pakistan, but the country's media have taken it to a very high level.

Blog   |   Pakistan

Mission Journal: Hope in Pakistan

For the last decade, Pakistan has been one of the world's most dangerous countries for the media. At least 46 journalists have been killed, 24 of them murdered for the "crime" of covering the intelligence services, the Taliban, separatists in Baluchistan, or the criminal underworld. The result is a legacy of self-censorship and fear among the Pakistan press; critical stories go unreported. 

Blog   |   Pakistan

In Pakistan, another journalist breaks his silence

CPJ's report, Roots of Impunity, published earlier this year, provides a glimpse of the grim realities that journalists in Pakistan face when they cross red lines. Many journalists are threatened, harassed, and intimidated by a host of actors, including members of Pakistan's security and intelligence apparatus. Some of these cases get reported, but in many instances journalists stay quiet to avoid further trouble. Almost every Pakistani journalist visiting CPJ tells me that he or she routinely receives threats.

December 9, 2013 4:31 PM ET

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Blog   |   Pakistan

Chishti abducted, beaten: Challenge for Pakistan

Ali Chishti, who writes for The Friday Times, has gone public in Islamabad with details of his abduction and beating last Friday, August 30. Chishti is making the rounds of TV talk shows describing how he was picked up in Karachi by uniformed police driving a police vehicle, blindfolded, switched to another police vehicle, taken to a small room somewhere in Karachi, and beaten by men he does not think were police officers. After nine hours, he was dropped by the side of the road at 4:30 Saturday morning.

Reports   |   Pakistan

Roots of Impunity

Sidebar: Verbatim: Threats, Promises, and Fears

“No half-hearted police measures or words of consolation from the highest offices in the land will suffice in the aftermath of the brutal treatment meted out to journalist Umar Cheema of The News.”

Editorial in the newspaper Dawn condemning the September 2010 abduction and beating of Cheema. Intelligence agents were suspected in the attack. No arrests were made.

Reports   |   Pakistan

Roots of Impunity

3. Intimidation, Manipulation, and Retribution

A couple of years ago, Hamid Mir, Najam Sethi, Umar Cheema, and other prominent figures in the news media began going public with the threats they were receiving from intelligence agencies. It was a risky calculation, but the silence, they reasoned, encouraged intimidation and allowed impunity to persist.

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