Pakistan Police Register False Case Against South Asia Tribune Editor
by Free Press Network (FPN)
WASHINGTON, DC, USA, 23 August 2002 (FPN): Pakistan's corrupt, brutal
and political police have registered a false and fabricated case
of 'robbery' against Shaheen Sehbai, Editor of the Washington-based
South Asia Tribune ( http://www.satribune.com ), on the orders of
army dictator and self-appointed 'President' General Pervez
Musharraf, to stop the weekly Web newspaper from exposing corruption,
frauds and human rights abuses committed by the Musharraf regime
officials and many Pakistani military officers.
The Musharraf junta has misused Mehmood Khalid Hijazi, a low-level
civilian employee of the Pakistan Army General Headquarters, by
making him the plaintiff in the fake case who has maliciously claimed
in a police First Information Report (FIR), dated Wednesday, 21
August 2002, signed by Sub-Inspector Mohammad Akram of the R.A. Bazar
Police Station, Rawalpindi, that about 18 months ago Shaheen Sehbai
went to the home of Hijazi in Rawalpindi with his family members and
took away some things by wielding a hand-gun.
Hijazi, a venal servant of his army masters, has concocted a stupid
and ridiculous story to please and satisfy the revengeful military
dictators who are struggling to punish their critics by using
malicious and tyrannical tactics. According to The News International
report of 23 August 2002, headlined "Noted Journalist Booked For
Robbery," the plaintiff has made the following laughable statement in
"On February 22, 2001, when I was present in the house with my wife
Parwana and daughter Hira, my brother-in-law, Shaheen Sehbai, armed
with 30-bore pistol, forcibly entered my house along with his wife
Afsana Shaheen (sister-in-law of the complainant), 14-year-old Sobia,
little Sonia and two boys Mansoor (Gullu) and Imran." The News report
further states: "He alleged that Shaheen Sehbai held him at gunpoint
and asked Hijazi's ex-wife why she was living in Hijazi's dirty
house. He accused Mr. Sehbai of taking away gold ornaments and other
home appliances. Mr. Sehbai has also been accused of holding Hijazi's
younger brother, who later entered the house, on gunpoint."
Hijazi's story is ludicrous because no veteran and peaceful
journalist like Shaheen Sehbai would go to the home of his relative
with his wife and children to commit any kind of robbery or dacoity.
The complaint is also absurd because Mr. Sehbai, former Editor of The
News International ( http://jang.com.pk/thenews ), stayed in Pakistan
over a year after the alleged incident, but the complainant never
filed any charges against the journalist when he was working in
Pakistan. He resigned from his job and moved to the United States in
March 2002 after the Musharraf regime put official pressure on his
newspaper over the investigative reports about the murder of The Wall
Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl.
Hijazi was once married to Shaheen Sehbai's cousin. He divorced her
over a year ago. This relationship was known only to a senior
military officer, now posted in the Inter-Services Public Relations
Department, headed by General Musharraf's press spokesman, Major
General Rashid Qureshi. That's why corrupt and tyrannical officials
of the Musharraf tyranny retained the illegal services of Hijazi, a
mercenary of the army tyrants, to defame, harm and victimize Mr.
Sehbai, his family and relatives.
In an August 22 statement issued in the Washington area, Shaheen
Sehbai called the fraudulent and cooked up case a vindictive and
shameful attempt by the Musharraf military government, which is aimed
at silencing the South Asia Tribune, suppressing investigative
journalism and harassing the Pakistani and American Press.
Mr. Shebai, the former Washington Correspondent of DAWN (
http://www.dawn.com ), says: "This report lodged by the Pakistani
police, obviously under pressure of the military authorities, is
malafide and a direct victimization because I launched a weekly Web
newspaper for investigative reporting in July 2002, which has exposed
many corruption scandals of the Musharraf military government and its
high officials. The police case against me has been registered 18
months after the alleged event which itself speaks about its merit.
"I will invoke all legal and constitutional remedies to defend
against this outrageous onslaught against me, my family and the Free
Press. I have already instructed my legal counsel, Mr. Babar Awan, an
attorney at law in Rawalpindi, to prepare a suitable legal defense to
fight this blatant harassment which exposes all claims of General
Pervez Musharraf about freedom of the Press in Pakistan.
"I urge all the journalist, political, lawyers and human rights
organizations to raise their voice against this harassment.
"I also warn the Musharraf regime and the military authorities not to
harass any member of my family in Pakistan. They would be directly
responsible for all the consequences of any such action."
In his August 22 e-mail message to the Washington-based Information
Times, America's daily independent newspaper, and to the Free Press
Network (FPN), Shaheen Sehbai wrote:
"Dear Friends: Pakistan Police registered a case against me for
committing 'a dacoity at gunpoint' 18 months ago in Rawalpindi. I
have never handled a gun in my whole life. It is a totally fake and
bogus allegation made by the military regime of General Pervez
Musharraf, which used a low-level employee of the Army GHQ, who once
was my cousin's husband, as the accuser. Please read the truth about
this vicious and wanton attack on me, my family, my relatives, the
South Asia Tribune and civil liberties at http://www.satribune.com
and also read the copies of the Police Report.
"As I write this letter, the Musharraf police is raiding the homes of
my relatives in Pakistan. Several raids have been conducted and women
and children have been threatened and harassed by men in uniform. I
request you to raise your voice to stop this persecution and
victimization. My lawyers are also taking all the legal steps to
handle the situation. Please do whatever you can.
"Thanks and Regards,
South Asia Tribune"