Global media watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has called on the Dutch authorities to investigate a recent attack on an exiled Pakistani blogger in the Netherlands and provide him protection.
In a February 6 statement, RSF said Ahmad Waqass Goraya was attacked by two unidentified men outside his house in the western city of Rotterdam on February 2.
Daniel Bastard, head of RSF’s Asia-Pacific desk, urged the Dutch police to concentrate on Goraya’s complaint, including the possibility of the Pakistani spy service, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), being involved in the attack.
“If it is confirmed that the ISI was responsible for this shocking attack, it would set an unacceptable precedent and would constitute a flagrant violation of Dutch sovereignty,” Bastard noted. “We therefore urge Dutch foreign minister Stef Blok to immediately summon Pakistan’s ambassador to The Hague and demand an explanation.”
The Pakistani authorities have not commented on the attack or Goraya’s accusations. But the Pakistani military has repeatedly denied any involvement in intimidating or harassing journalists.
“I was on the phone when a man appeared and began punching me in the face while I saw another man with him filming the attack,” Goraya told RSF about the February 2 attack. RSF said the attacker threatened to kill Goraya and warned him that “he knew exactly where he [Goraya] and his family live.”
Goraya 36, an IT specialist, was abducted in the eastern Pakistani city of Lahore in January 2017. He fled to the Netherlands after his release a few weeks later. He complained of being tortured during captivity. He told the BBC that he had been tortured “beyond limits” and identified his abductors as a "government institution" with links to the military.
According to RSF, Goraya was one of six journalists accused in an internal memo by the Pakistan’s Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) of posting photos of murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi online ahead of a visit by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman to Islamabad. The FIA, an offshoot of the Interior Ministry, said the journalists should be “investigated” by the intelligence agencies. “Which in this context presumably meant subjected to harassment and intimidation,” the RSF statement said.
RSF’s 2019 World Press Freedom Index ranked Pakistan 142nd out of 180 countries.