26 September 2020

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I fled Pakistan for fear of being kidnapped by ISI: Ispahani

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Monday 23 Junuar,

Kabul(BNA)

Pak President Asif Ali Zardari's media adviser Farahnaz Ispahani has alleged that she ran away from Pakistan fearing Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) might kidnap her to force her husband, Husain Haqqani, to sign a confession and implicate the president in the memogate scandal.

Farahnaz Ispahani's allegations will shock Pakistan's military establishment and many in the government and the opposition. Farahnaz said this while talking to a British journalist, Christina Lamb, who claimed in her Sunday Times article that Pakistan's military is "steadily silencing opponents" and conducting a soft coup.

Christina Lamb, a foreign correspondent for The Sunday Times, who filed story on Pakistan from Washington, is banned from entering Pakistan after being deported from the country in 2001.

Lamb wrote that the memogate scandal involving Husain Haqqani, who is facing trial for treason, was "trumped up".

Lamb wrote that Haqqani's life is in danger and his wife Farahnaz Ispahani has fled to Washington amid fears that "ISI might kidnap her to force herhusband to sign a confession and implicate the president."

"What we're seeing is the systematic killing or silencing of anyone who stands up to the institutionalisation of a militarised Islamist state, who advocates positive relations with the West or stands up for tolerance," Ispahani told The Sunday Times. "I'm scared, even the government can't even protect itself."

Lamb also wrote about the latest murder of the radio journalist Mukarram Khan Atif and alleged his murder was "part of a deliberate campaign by the country's military intelligence arm (ISI) and militant groups to silence moderate voices."

She wrote the Voice of America journalist had been receiving death threats from militants who did not like his reporting and demanded space on his radio programmes to voice their own hateful rhetoric.

She quoted Bob Dietz, Asia Director of the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists, as saying: "We're definitely seeing a deliberate attempt to silence people. Scores of Pakistani journalists have asked for asylum, wanting us to arrange fellowships. Frankly, we're overwhelmed by it."

She also mentioned the murder of journalist Saleem Shahzad and mused that journalist Najam Sethi and his wife Jugnu Mohsin were "forced to move to Washington for a couple of months after several years of severe intimidation."

"In the old days you'd get picked up, thrown into prison for a couple of months, maybe roughed up, then let out. But now it's a whole different ball game - there's no second chance," she quoted Sethi as saying. She quoted a Baloch journalist Malik Siraj Akbar, who has won asylum in America, as saying that he didn't want to leave Pakistan but didn't "want to become a martyr".

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