Pak. Editor complains of threat to life

ISLAMABAD July 26. The editor of a Urdu daily considered to be the mouth-piece of Jamaat-e-Islami, Jasarat, who went missing on Wednesday night, has complained of threat to his life and harassment by the Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI) and other agencies in their bid to `gag' the press.

A report in the paper said its editor, Muzaffar Ejaz, left office for home on Wednesday but did not reach home. He was allegedly `abducted' and subsequently set free by his `captors' late in the night. He reached home around 4am on Thursday.

In a complaint to the president of the All Pakistan Newspapers Society, Mr. Ejaz has said he received a phone call on July 16 from a person — who identified himself as Col. Amjad of the ISI — and who wanted to meet him to discuss certain ideas and issues. The colonel was told that he was welcome to the newspaper office, but he said that since there were other members of the cell and some other newspapermen had also been invited, it would be better if Mr. Ejaz visited him at his place.

According to Mr. Ejaz, on July 17 at 6.30pm, Col. Amjad sent a vehicle to the Jasarat office. The editor informed his colleagues and left. He was taken to a house in the Defence Housing Authority where he met a person who identified himself as Col. Zaki. After a while a copy of the July 16 issue of the newspaper, which carried a news item which said Col. Zamir had been relieved of the responsibility of uniting the various factions of Muslim League, was shown.

According to Mr. Ejaz, Col. Zaki wanted to know the name of the reporter, source of the news and objectives of those who had given the news. Mr. Ejaz told him that it was not possible for him to reveal the details but offered to publish any denial.

Mr. Ejaz's offer of publishing a contradiction was not acceptable to Col. Zaki. Col. Zaki reportedly told him that he knew "many other ways to find out'' the details. Col. Zaki advised Mr. Ejaz to return to his office and let him know his response after consulting his colleagues.

As soon as the editor reached his office, he received a phone call from someone who wanted to know if he had reached the office "safely''. When Mr. Ejaz asked for his identity, the caller said he was `Ahead'. When the editor inquired whether he was Col. Ahmad Zaki, he was told that it was Mr. Ahmed who had asked him to let him know the name of the reporter.

Mr. Ejaz told him that he had consulted his chief editor who had advised him not to yield to the demand.

Later in the night, Naveed Iqbal of the Press Information Department rang up to say that he wanted to send a contradiction. The matter was received through fax and was accordingly published.On July 19, Col. Zaki (Mr. Ahmad) reportedly called again insisting on knowing the name of the reporter. He was told that it was impossible and a complaint was lodged why the editor was given a false pretext for the meeting. On July 21, Mr. Ejaz went to a relative's house in the city. On return, he felt that motorbike riders were on his tail. He alerted his friends and they recognised one of the persons as the same one who is seen regularly outside the Karachi Press Club gate.

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