Journalist's whereabouts a mystery -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Journalist’s whereabouts a mystery

KARACHI: The whereabouts of the ‘missing’ Pakistani man, accompanying the two French journalists arrested this week for violating the Foreigners Act, have become a mystery as nobody, including his family and colleagues, knows about him even after three days.

Khawar Mehdi Rizvi, 34, who had gone to Afghanistan along with two French journalists – reporter Marc Epstein and photographer Jean-Paul Guilloteau – disappeared after December 16, the day when Federal Investigation Agency arrested the two Frenchmen from the same hotel on charges of violating the Foreigners Act.

A journalist by profession and a press freedom activist, Khawar was working with Journalist Resource Centre (JRC) in Islamabad and is a consultant with Reporters Sans Borders. He was stringing for French newspapers Le Monde, Liberation, L’Express, Chicago Tribune (USA), and Gazeta Mercantil (Brazil). He also worked with the television networks TF1, France 2, France 3, Canal+, Match TV, Arte and NHK of Japan.

This correspondent tried several times to contact Khawar on his cellular phone but could not succeed as his phone was switched off.

However, one of Khawar’s friends, Amjad Bhatti, a resident of Islamabad, when contacted, said: “I last contacted him on Tuesday night. He told me that the law enforcers seized his laptop on Monday and some other things. But at that time he was hopeful and informed me that things would be settled soon.” Amjad added that he had lost contact with Khawar since Tuesday night.

Deputy Director FIA Passport Circle Muhammad Malik told The News that the agency arrested two French journalists from Avari Towers. “I don’t know about any third person. We had arrested two Frenchmen only,” he added.

However, at a time when all the top officials of police and other law-enforcement agencies denied the arrest of Khawar, well-informed sources told this scribe that Khawar was taken into custody by an intelligence unit and it was decided that his arrest would not be made public, owing to some legal complications, as according to the law of the land he did not commit any crime by visiting Quetta, Chaman and Afghanistan.

The Reporters Sans Borders has asked the Pakistani authorities to provide information about Khawar. “Holding a journalist in secret for three days is a violation of the law. Rizvi has done is to work with a team of foreign journalists to carry out some reporting. This does not in any event constitute an offence that requires such a response,” said the international press freedom organisation in a statement sent to Interior Minister Faisal Saleh Hayat
Source: The News
Date:12/20/2003