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Pakistan Rejects Report Alleging Threats to Dissidents Abroad

by Newsweek Pakistan
Pakistan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs

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Foreign Office describes charges as baseless and reiterates that Islamabad is fully committed to the promotion and protection of human rights for all its citizens

Pakistan on Tuesday “categorically” rejected a report published in a British newspaper that had alleged Islamabad was cracking down on dissidents abroad, adding that such accusations were baseless.

“There is no question of any threat being made to any national of any state, including Pakistan’s own nationals living anywhere on any pretext whatsoever,” Foreign Office spokesperson Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri said in response to media queries about the report.

Published in Britain’s The Guardian, the report alleged that several Pakistanis—all of them critical of the military—living in exile abroad had been warned by U.K. authorities of security threats. “Pakistan, a strong UK ally—particularly on intelligence issues—might be prepared to target individuals on British soil,” it read, adding that a man had been charged in London last month over conspiring to murder political activist Ahmad Goraya, who is based in The Netherlands.

The report had also cited political analyst Ayesha Siddiqa as claiming that she had been issued an “Osman warning” from the Metropolitan Police over threats to her life.

Claiming that the report’s “unsubstantiated” allegations appeared to be part of a “misinformation campaign” against Pakistan, Chaudhri said it was designed to malign the country and its state institutions.

“Pakistan is a parliamentary democracy with a vibrant civil society, free media and independent judiciary, which remains fully committed to the promotion and protection of human rights for all its citizens without discrimination,” read the statement.

The spokesperson claimed that Pakistan’s “strong commitment to the right to freedom of opinion and expression” was clear from the “scores of vibrant media channels and newspapers in the country.” Despite these “scores,” Pakistan is consistently rated at the bottom of the rankings of global press freedom, with Reporters Without Borders declaring Prime Minister Imran Khan a “press freedom predator” earlier this year, noting that Pakistan was 145 out of 180 countries on the World Press Freedom Index.

Chaudhri maintained that it was regrettable that any news outlet provided a “platform for peddling of unsubstantiated and false narratives against Pakistan.”

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