ISLAMABAD/NEW DELHI: The multi-pronged assault on journalists in Pakistan continued right in that nation's capital on Wednesday. WION's Pakistan bureau chief Taha Siddiqui has survived an abduction attempt in Islamabad. He has been roughed up and all his belongings, including his phone and passport, have been taken.
Siddiqui has been vocal against the attacks on Pakistani journalists and 'forced disappearances' in the troubled country. He had also recently been the subject of intense hate on social media platforms for speaking out against the treatment meted out to the wife and mother of alleged Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav at the hands of the Pakistani government and the media.
Siddiqui tweeted from the handle of Dawn correspondent Cyril Almeida. "This is Taha Siddiqui (@TahaSSiddiqui) using Cyrils a/c. I was on my way to airport today at 8:20am whn 10-12 armed men stopped my cab & forcibly tried to abduct me. I managed to escape. Safe and with police now. Looking for support in any way possible #StopEnforcedDisappearances," read the tweet.
This is Taha Siddiqui (@TahaSSiddiqui) using Cyrils a/c. I was on my way to airport today at 8:20am whn 10-12 armed men stopped my cab & forcibly tried to abduct me. I managed to escape. Safe and with police now. Looking for support in any way possible #StopEnforcedDisappearances
— cyril almeida (@cyalm) January 10, 2018
Siddiqui has been beaten and threatened with death. He is now at the police station where he says he is safe.
Many Pakistanis, including journalists, have condemned the incident.
Assault on @TahaSSiddiqui is a substantial escalation of a campaign of intimidation.
This brute thuggery is unacceptable. It only damages Pakistan.
Intimidation cannot suppress voices that do not align w more favourable narratives. Stop trying.
— Mosharraf Zaidi (@mosharrafzaidi) January 10, 2018
— Raza Ahmad Rumi (@Razarumi) January 10, 2018
— Fishel Benkhald (@Jew_Pakistani) January 10, 2018
As a Pakistani national who works for a pan-Asian news network headquartered in India, Siddiqui is quite often the subject of harassment online, sometimes at the hands of social media accounts linked to Pakistan's military-politico establishment.
Even as news of the attempted abduction spread on Pakistani Twitter, Siddiqui was predictably ridiculed by many, who questioned how he was able to escape from a gang of 10-12 men.
There were others however, who stood up for Siddiqui and offered an explanation.
— Rabia Mehmood (@Rabail26) January 10, 2018