Pakistan: FIA assures SC of withdrawing cases against journalists


ISLAMABAD: The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) assured the Supreme Court on Monday that it will withdraw cases filed against journalists amidst allegations of harassment.

The cases were registered over a “malicious campaign” that allegedly targeted the judiciary and other state institutions on social media.

The case was presided over by a bench, led by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Qazi Faez Isa.

The CJP remarked that the court had also taken notice of journalists being harassed in 2021. “If action had been taken promptly, perhaps we would not be facing this today – that matter was more severe than a mere FIA notice,” observed the chief justice.

He also highlighted the apparent reluctance of some to take a firm stance before the court.

The legal counsel representing the journalists drew attention to Section 20 of the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act (PECA), flagging its frequent misuse as a concern.

The court responded that the FIA has committed to withdrawing cases against journalists Amir Mir and Imran Shafqat. FIA officials also confirmed that applications will be submitted to retract the charges against the aforementioned individuals formally.

The court then adjourned the hearing till March 27.

Earlier this month, the SC had castigated the FIA for harassing media personnel, while noting that authorities issued notices to journalists under the guise of investigating an online campaign against the superior judiciary—an investigation that the SC never ordered.

On January 30, the SC granted journalists an extension until after the general elections to respond to the FIA inquiry regarding a purported malicious campaign against the judiciary on social media.

The controversy stemmed from the Supreme Court’s recent decision against the PTI intra-party elections, resulting in the removal of its iconic electoral symbol – the cricket bat. Subsequently, a reported malicious campaign targeting judges and institutions emerged on social media earlier this month.

On January 28, The FIA cybercrime wing summoned 65 people, including various journalists and social media activists, for allegedly running the malicious