Islamabad, Pakistan (Asghar Ali Mubarak) Taha Siddiqui, an independent Pakistani journalist reporting for international media outlets, on Wednesday escaped an abduction attempt by armed men in broad daylight.
The brazen attack, which took place on the busy Islamabad expressway on the morning of January 10th, is a prominent example of the impunity with which violent actors are able to silence journalists , and the entire journalist community demands that the attackers be brought to justice.
Siddiqui, 33, is an award-winning journalist and Pakistan correspondent for the Paris-based France24 English language news television channel, and has reported for major media outlets such as the New York Times, Christian Science Monitor, the Guardian and WION.
In his application to the police, he recounts how the incident occurred while he was on his way to the airport in a private taxi, when a vehicle deliberately stopped in front of his cab, forcing it to a stop.
Three armed men disembarked from the vehicle and began to approach Siddiqui’s side of the car, while more men arrived in a double cabin pick-up truck and attempted to get into his car.
The men all wore plainclothes and dragged Siddiqui from the car, screaming at him in English. “What do you think of yourself?” They dragged him on the ground on the main road, kicking and beating him and even threatened to shoot him.
One man held a gun to the head of Siddiqui’s taxi driver and ordered him to get out. Two men got into the car with him, one in the driver’s seat and another beside him. However, before the car began moving, he managed to escape through the other backseat door, which was unlocked.
He recounts in his application to the police that he managed to run onto the green belt to the other side of the busy road, rushing into oncoming traffic. In the confusion of the morning rush hour, Siddiqui managed to evade his captors and flag down two separate vehicles, which eventually dropped him to a nearby taxi stand.
From there, he made his way to the nearby Khanna police station, and safety.
Police then accompanied him to the Koral police station, in whose jurisdiction the incident took place, and have been very cooperative in recording Mr Siddiqui’s statement and examining the facts of the case.
The would-be abductors managed to deprive the journalist of all his belongings, including his cellphone, passport, laptop and other technical equipment, which is a direct attack on his livelihood.
Mr Siddiqui, the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists, Rawalpindi Islamabad Union of Journalists and the entire journalistic community now calls on the Interior Minister and the police department to help him bring those who would threaten and attack journalists in broad daylight to justice, and seeks the recovery of the journalist’s professional equipment. To this end, all unions and the entire community demands that an FIR be registered as soon as possible and the perpetrators should be brought to justice.