By Jon Boone
In recent times Pakistani social media activists of a liberal, secular persuasion have been abducted by agents of the state, tortured then released after a few weeks. Invariably they then give up the blogging business: they stop criticising the country’s military establishment, or the militant religious groups long backed by the army as proxy warriors.
Last month saw another abduction of a peace activist in Lahore. A Marxist professor was found dead in Karachi yesterday.
And last week, Taha Siddiqui, an outspoken journalist, narrowly escaped the most brazen kidnap attempt yet. He was roughed up, in broad daylight, by several armed men who had stopped the taxi he was travelling in on a busy Islamabad road. It is beyond any reasonable doubt that his attackers were military personnel. The army had already made clear its annoyance with his outspoken journalism.
Britain has had nothing to say about this growing assault on free speech, even when it involved a journalist who contributes to British media outlets, including this one. But there were no public condemnations. Not even the meekest expression of concern.
Readers of the official Twitter feed of the British High Commission, or the personal feed of Thomas Drew, Britain’s top diplomat in the country, will struggle to find mention of Siddiqui, the bloggers or anything else of substance. They will only see a stream of inane babblings about various public relations initiatives promoting Britain and soft news stories about Pakistan.