NYT asks: who attacked Umar Cheema?
NEW YORK: The influential New York Times is vigorously pursuing the case of Umar Cheema and on Wednesday published an editorial strongly urging the Pakistan government to make it clear that it will no longer abet or condone this behaviour. And it needs to find out who abducted Mr Cheema and bring them to justice, the paper said.
The editorial of NYT said: “Umar Cheema, an investigative reporter for a major Pakistani newspaper, The News, has long tackled difficult and risky topics. His articles have questioned the conduct and performance of the Army and the intelligence services and detailed accusations of corruption against President Asif Ali Zardari.
Now he is taking perhaps the biggest risk of his career: speaking publicly about being abducted by assailants he believes were associated with the spy agency. As Mr Cheema told Jane Perlez of The Times, he was on his way home from dinner recently when men in black commando garb stopped his car, blindfolded him and drove him out of town, where he was beaten and videotaped in humiliating positions. Six hours later, he was dumped on a road 100 miles from Islamabad.
“I have suspicions and every journalist has suspicions that all fingers point to the ISI,” he said, referring to the Inter-Services Intelligence agency. He said that earlier this year, an ISI officer summoned him to a coffee shop in Islamabad and warned him to fall into line.
Other journalists and politicians who got on the wrong side of the Pakistani military and intelligence services have also been threatened and attacked. Most are too fearful to talk openly about their ordeals. Mr Cheema has long stood apart. He won a Daniel Pearl Journalism Fellowship in 2008 and during that time worked in The Times’s newsroom for six months. He has done all Pakistanis a favor by refusing to be intimidated.
Under Pakistan’s civilian government, journalists today are more free to do their jobs than during the years of the military dictatorship. But according to the most recent State Department human rights report, news media outlets, reporters and their families are still often the targets of threats and attacks by security forces, political parties and militants. The government needs to make clear that it will no longer abet or condone this behavior. And it needs to find out who abducted Mr Cheema and bring them to justice.Â”
Source: The News