When journalist Ali Chishti was blindfolded by his kidnappers, he was partially relieved. “I knew then they wouldn’t kill me,” he said. But before getting released, Mr. Chishti was tortured and abused for several hours and asked why he was writing on national and security issues and on the Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM).
Not for the first time, a journalist is literally under fire in Karachi. In March, Baloch journalist Abdul Razzak went missing and his body was found dumped last month; before that TV anchor Jasmeen Manzoor was threatened and she had to quit her show.
A relative of Naseeruddin Shah, Mr. Chishti (30) was accosted by policemen who were waiting for him outside his office — he works for the weekly The Friday Times — when he was leaving at 8 p.m. on August 30. “There were six of them, five wearing police uniforms and there were police pilot cars waiting alongside. They blindfolded me and took me away and then handed me over to another group of people. I couldn’t see them but they beat me up and kept asking me for my sources,” he told The Hindu. “The second group pretended to be members of a political party and after many hours they said they would let me go provided I agreed not to write on Karachi or on the military and national security issues. They also ordered me to leave Karachi,” added.
He left Karachi soon after and sought refuge in Islamabad where he got support from the National Press Club and other groups. His colleagues told him that some people had come again to inquire if he had really left the city. Unlike other cases, people have come forward to testify that they saw police cars waiting; some even saw him being kidnapped. He suspects the role of rogue elements from the police. The investigators have prima facie confirmed that it was policemen who kidnapped him.
He said he wrote against mullahs and on jihadis and since he has a wide readership, he also stands the risk of being labelled. While Mr. Chishti escaped with his life, the body of Abdul Razzaq, the Balochistan-based journalist, was found in a mutilated state. He lived in Karachi’s Lyari area, and was missing since March. Over 13,000 people have died in Karachi in the last eight years, Mr. Chishti said.