Pakistan: Journalist Khalid Jamil held for spreading ‘anti-state narrative’


The district and sessions court on Friday remanded Islamabad based journalist Muhammad Khalid Jamil in the custody of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) over the charges of spreading “provocative narrative against the state institutions through social media platforms”.

Jamil, the bureau chief of a private news channel, was taken into custody by the agency last night from his residence at Media town, Islamabad. The development was later confirmed by his channel through a post made on X, formerly known as Twitter.

According to the First Information Report (FIR), a copy of which is available with The Express Tribune, the accused was found “sharing and spreading highly intimidating content/tweets on social media platforms, including X”.

The FIR invoked Section 505 (statement conducing to public mischief) of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC).

“The accused had knowingly misinterpreted and disseminated anti-state narrative by sharing false misleading and baseless information which are also likely to cause fear in the public and may incite anyone to commit an offence against the state or the state institution or public tranquility,” it said.

It also included Section 20 of the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act (Peca), which states: “Whoever intentionally and publicly exhibits or displays or transmits any information through any information system, which he knows to be false, and intimidates or harms the reputation or privacy of a natural person, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years or with fine which may extend to one million rupees or with both.”

The FIR claimed that the “accused persons including Muhammad Khalid Jamil propagated, promoted and glorified anti-state, provocative and hatred narrative against the state institutions.” Meanwhile, the agency stepped short to reveal the identities of other individuals implicated in the case.

The agency equated the act of the arrested journalist with “subversion” in a bid to create rift between general public and state institutions, including judiciary.

It also claimed the “competent authority” in this case, the ministry of interior, apparently, authorised the agency to file the FIR and proceed with the journalist’s arrest.

The FIR asserted that the journalist was found to cause “harm to Pakistan”. It added that through such intimidating content including videos, the accused “attempted to incite the general public [sentiments] by creating a feeling of acrimony among pillars of the state”.

The arrest of journalist prompted members of civil society, journalists and others to react. From Anchor Marvi Memon to senior journalists Nadeem Nusrat and Mubashir Zaidi, all were on the same page, condemning the arrest of Jamil, demanding his swift release.

It has been witnessed that many cases against journalists are registered to suppress dissenting voices by the powers that