House Raid of Salman Masood and Government’s Over-Reaction

Jan 26th, 2016 | Category: Articles

Sarah Khan

 

On 12 January 2016, the paramilitary Rangers raided the home of a New York Times journalist Mr Salman Masood, who is also the Islamabad-based resident editor of English daily The Nation. Soon after the raid, Salman Masood posted series of posts on his Twitter account, documenting the search as Rangers looked around the house. According to Mr Masood’s account, Rangers personnel arrived at his residence, located in Defence Housing Authority (DHA) Islamabad. A man in plainclothes repeatedly rang his door bell at around 7am. He was accompanied by Rangers personnel and a police officer. “They claimed that they wanted to search the house for a suspect, but they did not have a search warrant”.

The news of house raid of New York Times Correspondent received tremendous attention even in international media and sparked outcry in Pakistan’s social and print media. Leading dailies of US and UK reported the incident and New York Times demanded a full inquiry into the matter. Soon after the reporting of incident Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said he was taking notice of the raid and had directed the interior secretary to investigate who ordered the raid and why. He also sought an explanation from the security agencies, saying that such action was not acceptable. A senior editor on The New York Times’s international desk, Douglas Schorzman, said the interior minister had issued an apology, which included a claim that the search “was part of a broader pattern of searches across his neighborhood”.

A senior Islamabad police official later explained that the search operation carried out in DHA Islamabad was not a targeted one. “It was a search operation in which several houses were searched and 25 suspects – including two Afghan national – had been picked up during the search operation across the Sihala and Loi Bher areas.” He added that SP (Rural) Syed Mustafa Tanver, police and Rangers personnel searched 300 houses, including Mr Masood’s residence, and collected information about the occupants of these houses. Police officials said that when Mr Masood asked to see a warrant, he was told that a search operation could be carried out in the presence of a magistrate. Magistrate Yasir Langah, accompanied the search party.

In June 2013, Declan Walsh, The New York Times Pakistan bureau chief, who is also a close friend of Salman Masood, was officially placed in category A of the Black List (BL), with the government declaring him persona non grata, documents revealed. According to the letter issued by Shahid Riaz, assistant director (BL Cell) at the directorate general for immigration and passports, Walsh had been blacklisted on the recommendation of the interior ministry and will no longer be able to avail visa facilities without the prior approval of the immigration and passports authority.

The paramilitary raid on house of Salman Masood received criticism from journalists but it is very much justified. His writings are mostly comprised of anti-Pakistan themes usually followed by Indian writers. He is close friend of Declan Walsh, who was expelled from Pakistan due to his undesirable activities. They both are co-writers of dozens of anti-Pakistan articles and their only agenda is to defame Pakistan and tarnish its international image. Our Interior Minister’s reaction to house raid of Salman Masood seems a bit over. Pakistan is fighting a war against terrorism and such raids are frequently carried out through out Pakistan. Instead of encouraging Law Enforcement Agencies, our minister has ordered an inquiry into the issue because Salman Masood is linked to NY Times. Our government officials must support all steps that are being taken to counter terror in the country instead of taking notices and initiating actions against those who are putting their lives at risks by raiding houses in order to search terrorists who are at large. Our government officials must serve the government of Pakistan instead of serving for the interests of those states who are sending such reporters in Pakistan.

 

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