Muhammad Qasim Qasimi

Beats Covered:
Local or Foreign:

Muhammad Qasim Qasimi, a reporter with GB News, an Urdu-language social media news network and newspaper, and Tehreer News, an Urdu-language news website, was detained at his home on the night of November 21, 2018, in the Kharmang district of Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan. Qasimi reports from the region near the Line of Control—the administered border between India and Pakistan–on various local issues, human rights, and politics, and had been with GB News for about six months, GB News editor Munir Akhtar told CPJ.

A person familiar with Qasimi who asked not to be named for fear of retaliation told CPJ that Qasimi had reported for Tehreer News for one year and highlighted local corruption in his reports, which had upset local officials.

Qasimi had been reporting on a land dispute involving local officials, according to Akhtar. According to Tehreer News, the local administration was upset with Qasimi’s reporting and had told him to maintain good relations with the government. Qasimi was also preparing a report on inside deals within the local government, and Tehreer News reported that it’s possible he was arrested to prevent that article from being published.

Qasimi was arrested after getting into a verbal argument on the phone with the assistant commissioner, according to Akhtar and Tehreer News. After the argument, Qasimi and the assistant commissioner each filed first information reports (FIRs) against each other, according to documents CPJ viewed. The reports are the first step in Pakistani criminal proceedings. Qasimi was subsequently arrested for insulting the assistant commissioner and could face five charges under Pakistan’s penal code, including criminal intimidation, intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of peace, defamation, threat of injury to public servant, and obstructing a public servant in discharge of public functions, according to documents CPJ viewed.

Qasimi was being held pending investigation in Skardu jail.

CPJ’s attempts to contact the assistant commissioner, officials at Skardu jail, and the station house officer in the Tolti police station via phone went unanswered.