ISLAMABAD: Journalist Rana Abrar Khalid is allegedly being harassed by the government institutions for seeking information about gifts being received by Prime Minister Imran Khan.
“I was told by some fellow journalists that a few days ago the federal intelligence agency IB was investigating about me and that IB officials met them and asked this question particularly about me,” Khalid said.
Khalid claimed that three suspicious women had recently searched his house under the guise of a dengue survey and took photographs; whereas, no dengue survey was in progress neither in his street nor in the entire area where he live. “This turned my doubt into the belief that the suspicious women came to my house either to steal a specific file which is related to my appeal to Pakistan Information Commission (PIC) or they may have come to my house to install spy equipment (bugs),” the journalist maintained.
Rawalpindi Islamabad Union of Journalists (RIUJ) have condemned the alleged harassment of the Senior Journalist Rana Abrar Khalid and requested the journalists to attend the hearings of the case in Islamabad High Court to express solidarity with the senior journalist Rana Abrar Khalid.
Afzal Butt – Former President PFUJ – said, the government instead of sharing information with the journalist has not only challenged the matter in Islamabad High Court but also harassing the senior journalist which is shameful.
Khalid in November 2020 requested the Cabinet Division to provide information about the gifts received by the Prime Minister Imran Khan from foreign heads of the states. He had also requested information about the gifts retained for Imran Khan during 18 August 2018 to 31 October 2020, along with the description of (with complete specification& model of every gift with its market value) and how much money has the Prime Minister Imran Khan (recipient deposited in the national exchequer in return?
On appeal filed by Rana Abrar Khalid the Pakistan Information Commission in January 2021 issued a detailed order and directed the Cabinet Division to provide the requested information to the citizen.
The commission in its order has observed that absence of certified information contributes to ‘media hype’ and resulted in ‘unwarranted stories’, creating trust-deficit between citizens and public institutions. Certified requested information will dispel rumors about the reporting of the gifts to ‘Tosha ‘Khana’ by the public officials and their retention price and which elected representative or public official retained which gift at what price.
When contacted – Nadeem Umer – Senior Journalist and regular RTI practitioner – said, when Imran Khan was in opposition, he was quoting RTI in his public gathering and was getting credit of KPRTI Commission, but now his government itself is reluctant to public the information and have challenged multiple orders of the Pakistan Information Commission in the Islamabad High Court, which is shameful.
He added the Government should public the record requested by the journalist Rana Abrar Khalid and others to make the system transparent.