02/13/2020, 09.43
PAKISTAN
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Islamabad tells activist Gul Bukhari: Keep quiet or face terrorism charges

The woman is in exile in the United Kingdom following her abduction in May 2018. The activist is famous for her criticism of the Pakistani army and for research into forced disappearances by the military, and has a large social media following.

Islamabad (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Either appear in trial for propaganda against the government or face terrorism: this is the threat addressed by the Islamabad security agency to a famous activist. This was revealed by Radio Gadhara, an online service affiliated with Radio Free Europe. The activist in question is Gul Bukhari, self-exiled to the United Kingdom after a brief kidnapping in 2018 to escape the pressure of the government that wanted to silence her.

On February 11, the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) counter-terrorism branch ordered the woman to appear in court to answer the accusation of online propaganda against the government, national security organizations and the judicial system. According to organizations that defend human rights and the freedom of the press and expression, in this way the Pakistani authorities want to suppress dissent not only of those who live within national borders, but also by those who live abroad.

Gul Bukhari has already withstood attempts to silence her. In May 2018, the 54-year-old activist, who was a contributor to The Nation newspaper and television commentator at the time, was kidnapped by some thugs in Lahore, while she was going to a television studio to record a broadcast. The woman is famous for her critical views of the Pakistani army and forced disappearances by the military, and has a large following especially on social media. Thanks to the freedom of speech guaranteed by the network, it denounces the repression of the Pashtun movement, defends civil rights and those who end up targeted by authorities for standing up to power groups.

Reporters Without Borders maintain that the law "is often used by authorities to silence journalists who dare to cross the regime's implicit red line." The Committee to Protect Journalist (CPJ) complains that the Pakistani authorities could request the extradition of the activist through Interpol, and freeze all the woman's properties.

Currently Bukhari has told the Committee she does not fear a forced return, but has no intention of going to trial. CPJ coordinator Steven Butler says "threatening to indict a journalist for terrorism and confiscating his property for comments on social media or published articles is absurd, and only reveals the extreme insecurity of the government".

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