The Frontier Post
Commitment to Journalism
Prisoner of conscience
M Waqar NY, USA Khyberzalmee@comcast.net
I am extremely disturbed and upset by reading a news item in your newspaper about Editor in Chief of The Frontier Post ; I am surprised that he is still in prison, Rehmat Shah Afridi played a great role by publishing The Frontier Post from Peshawar, The Frontier Post was born during cruel regime of Zia, then I was student at Islamic college, Frontier Post did educate me. Mr. Afridi made Frontier Post voice of Pakhtuns and never hesitated to publish facts even during cruel dictator Zia regime. The Frontier Post is right to mention in news item that Mr Afridi was punished for his pen which he was using for his people against tyrant rulers. Any journalist who does not work for the official media, bourgeois, and elite; is considered to be an "enemy or criminal" and that happens in third world countries, its time for the new government in Pakhtunistan to release Mr. Afridi, I would like to ask all writers on this forum to write and mail letters to new government in Pakistan and write letters to amnesty international and CPJ (www.cpj.org), mention this on all blogs newspapers etc, and force government to release Mr. Afridi and all other journalists from prison. Mr. Afridi is imprisoned because of his peaceful expression of his beliefs. He is victim of an unfair trial. The Frontier Post had been targeted for some time for its investigative journalism; Rehmat Shah Afridi, was sentenced to death for drug offences for which the prosecution failed to produce any compelling evidence. If prosecution was unable to produce any evidence, then why he is still in prison? He is still in prison because he is Pakhtun??? He was arrested because his paper The Frontier Post documented official corruption. That was his job and duty as a journalist and his right to freedom of expression, which he exercised in the course of his work as a journalist. Third-world regimes are known to be intolerant of gutsy journalists and publishers. He published a story detailing how members of the ruling party, including Prime Minister Sharif himself, had through illegal and bizarre use of power and influence obtained massive loans from some public-sector banks, leading to the banks' failure. In USA water gate was exposed by a journalist but he was not send to prison, but in Pakistan corrupt regimes like to control media. He was tried and convicted solely for his journalistic work. He is in jail on cooked-up charges of possessing narcotics. What is the sin of Mr. Rehmat Shah Afridi? Nawaz government sentenced Mr Afridi just because he was the real critic of that regime and was a big hurdle for the enemies of the nation and the country. Did he kill innocent people? The only sin of Mr Rehmat Shah Afridi is that he is the prisoner of conscience; he criticized the government for its illegal acts; he raised voice against cruelty; corruption; he spoke against unfair justice; and he disclosed those who looted the country. Lets not forget that NAWAZ SHARIF afraid for his life and did not stay in prison for more then a year and made a deal with Mush Regime and ran out of country. Rehmat Shah Afridi was exposing the corrupt practices of Nawaz regime and educating people of Pakhtunistan through his newspaper, in this case he was a true journalist. Bourgious, Imperialists and their puppets are enemies of Pakhtun nation, today Pakhtun nation is victim and target of those elements who don't want to see Pakhtuns educated and advanced. Lame-Duck President Musharraf's drastic steps to silence news coverage make a mockery of his often repeated claims to have fostered free and open media. ''Reporters Without Borders'' believes Afridi was imprisoned, convicted and sentenced to death in June 2001 because of his journalistic activities as the head of the Peshawar-based Frontier Post, and not because of any involvement in drug trafficking. His newspaper had carried frequent reports of corruption within Pakistan's Anti-Narcotics Force, which was set up with US support. Journalists in Pakistan and throughout Central and South Asia face great risks. Journalism is the noblest profession around. I hope new government in Pakhtunistan take action for release of The Frontier Post chief and all other journalists.
Saved from: http://www.thefrontierpost.com/News.aspx?ncat=le&nid=378&ad=06-04-200
Dated: Sunday, April 6, 2008, Rabi ul Awwal 28, 1429 A.H.