The Innovation for Change South Asia Secretariat urges the government of Pakistan to end arbitrary arrests, detentions, and harassment of journalists and political activists.
In the wake of recent political unrest in Pakistan, the government has initiated a brutal crackdown against the political activists and journalists supporting the former Prime Minister. Human Rights Watch have estimated that the number of arbitrarily detained political activists to be around 4,000 since May 9th, 2023. The Innovation for Change South Asia Secretariat condemns arbitrary detentions and harassment of journalists and political activists in the country and urges the government to uphold the rule of law and allow the citizens the right to freedom of expression, speech, association, and assembly.
The recent spate of political unrest in the country began after the arrest of former Prime Minister, Imran Khan in Islamabad on 9th May, 2023. To quell the protests and stop mass mobilization of people both online and offline, the government shutdown the internet and access to popular social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Youtube for over a week; till 16th May, 2023. The intentional blockage of access to the internet and especially social media platforms is to disrupt communications and curtail citizens’ access to information in order to limit what the citizens can see, do, or communicate.
While the I4C South Asia Hub believes anyone resorting to violence should be appropriately charged and tried under the court of law, it also advocates for the protection of human rights and condemns police brutality, arbitrary detentions and arrests of activists in a democratic society. Given that the internet has become an indispensable tool for realizing a range of human rights, combating inequality, and accelerating development and human progress, ensuring access to the internet should be a priority for the government.