Since the case was registered against me, I am unemployed. What could be more impressive than that? My social life, my personal life and my professional life have all been turned upside down in one fell swoop’.
The 9-month-long trial made journalist Shahid Aslam suffer from depression
The law applies equally to everyone living in a state. The same laws apply to law abiding and law breaking? A journalist is also a common citizen and in case of breaking the law, FIRs are registered on him and he has to appear in courts to prove the allegations against him wrong
Journalist Shahid Aslam was picked up in the dark of night for an investigative story. Shahid Aslam was arrested without warrant by around 20 people in plain clothes from Lahore on January 13, 2023 and transferred to Islamabad.
According to reports, he was detained in connection with the disclosure of tax records of Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa and his family members. The next day, the arrested accused Shahid Aslam was produced by the FIA before Judge Umar Shabbir in the District and Sessions Court. During the hearing, the FIA prosecutor told the court that Ahmed Noorani, a journalist based abroad , was receiving FBR information from Shahid Aslam .
The story of journalist Shahid Aslam is also a case study for journalists doing investigative stories. Shahid Aslam says that since this incident, I have not found a job anywhere. I am practically living a life of unemployment.
What was the FIR on Shahid Aslam? When did it happen? What were the reasons for this? What support did Shahid Aslam get from the national and international media? Everyone knows this. An FIR was registered against Shahid Aslam and he also faced trial. The FIR was registered under Section 4 of the PECA Ordinance 2016, Section 109 RW/3 of the Pakistan Penal Code 1960 and Section 5 (2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act 1947.
The question is, has Shahid Aslam been able to get out of the mental stress after the incident that happened to him? What changes happened in Shahid’s life? Is Shahid Aslam able to fulfill journalistic duties as before? The safety of a journalist is not only his life, but also the economic, social and personal aspects of his life that are completely changed by the occurrence of a single incident.
During the interview, Shahid Aslam told the question regarding safety that the story was not done by me, but the story was done by Ahmed Nawarni associated with English daily. I was arrested on the allegation that I helped to obtain a story from the Federal Board of Revenue ( FBR ). My position on this is that if there is no truth in this, why would I have taken measures for my safety beforehand? So far I have gone to court in eight appearances. One day this case will end. Every night has to end and morning has to come. Take my case forward, it will keep going around the courts like this, they can’t give me any punishment. The purpose of hanging this case will be a lesson for journalists.
Shahid Aslam says that I have an appearance on October 4 and may be charged during this appearance. Shahid further said that so far I have appeared in 8 appearances and in the last appearance a copy of the challan was also collected in the court.
In response to the question of how much his journalism was affected by this case, Shahid Aslam said that since the case was registered against me, I am unemployed. What could be more impressive than that? My social life, my personal life and my professional life have all been turned upside down in one fell swoop’.
Shahid Aslam Bol was associated with television and was carrying out his journalistic duties in Lahore. At the beginning of February, he was verbally informed about the suspension decision by the institution, while the notice also came in the last dates of the month. According to Shahid, the institution did not give any specific reason, it was definitely said that if things get fixed, they can perform services for the institution again.
According to Shahid Aslam, when the case was registered against me, the international media was very supportive, especially the ‘ Committee to Protect Journalists ‘ and ‘Reporters without Borders’ are in contact. These institutions also cover my every appearance.
The US-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) criticized the registration of cases against Pakistani journalists. Steven Butler, coordinator of CPJ’s Asia program in Washington, told ‘Voice of America’; Journalists should not be legally harassed for making critical comments on the army or any other institution in Pakistan. Multiple FIRs filed against them should be withdrawn together. CPJ ranks Pakistan as one of the most dangerous countries for journalists, with allegations of intimidation and harassment of journalists by civilian governments and military-led security agencies (commonly referred to as the establishment).
Shahid Aslam says that if a commission was formed for the protection of journalists and media professionals under the federal law 2021, I would probably have been acquitted of this case quickly, but the example of this act is that a building was built for justice, but a judge. The search remains. Shahid Aslam covered the current situation by saying, ‘I am still going through a trauma, I don’t know what to do. I did not consult any psychiatrist for my depression. If I had done my treatment in time, I would probably have imagined myself in a better environment.
Shahid says that for reporting I used to go to various government and private institutions where I could not go for the last 9 months. People I used to talk to every day have not talked to for months. Suffer from mental stress separately.
President of Islamabad Press Club Anwar Raza says that we have spoken to the Information Secretary about Shahid Aslam’s job, that Shahid Aslam’s dues should be paid. Since Bol TV is now owned by someone else, we have also spoken to them about Shahid Aslam’s dues. Verysoon he will also get a job, while according to Bol News officials, Shahid Aslam’s duties have been put on hold, he has not been fired.
President of Lahore Press Club Azam Chaudhary says that we have supported Shahid Aslam at every step. After his release, Shahid Aslam also visited the Lahore Press Club and gave a full briefing to the members of the Press Club. Top officials of Lahore Press Club accompany Shahid Aslam in his appearance.
More measures are needed at the government level to protect journalists in Pakistan. In which, first of all, the perpetrators of violence against journalists should be held accountable through the legal system. Media owners must make laws to support independent media organizations and journalists. These measures should also include safety training and access to resources for journalists
The post The 9-month-long trial made journalist Shahid Aslam suffer from depression first appeared on Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF).