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HomeNationalCalculated support and vociferous criticism: Netizens respond to Mohsin Baig's arrest

Calculated support and vociferous criticism: Netizens respond to Mohsin Baig’s arrest

Several side with journalist, calling out state for silencing journalists

Social media is flooded with scenes from journalist Mohsin Baig’s arrest by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), with some condemning his actions against state officials while others calculatedly calling out the raid on his house as mistreatment of journalists in the country.

Details of the incident revealed suggested that Baig was detained by the FIA Cybercrime wing, which conducted a raid on his house alongside police. Speaking with a local TV channel, Baig’s son said that FIA officials raided the house in plain clothes and arrested his father. He said the officials “dragged” the journalist to their van when he resisted during the raid.

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On the other hand, footage released by local media showed the journalist opening fire at the FIA officials and injuring one officer. Baig’s son said that they thought the officials were thieves and opened fire on them in defense. However, they later introduced themselves as law enforcement officers at which Baig and his son asked them to show arrest warrants, which they did not have.

Considering the conflicting accounts, the images on social media have polarized the citizenry.

Several journalists came out in Baig’s defense, some in a calculated manner, without condoning his behavior with the authorities.

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Veteran journalist Hamid Mir in this regard said that “nobody should violate the law” but the FIA agents had shown up in common attire and refused to furbish their identity documents when asked to do so.

In a separate tweet, Mir pointed out that Baig was Prime Minister Imran Khan’s friend while posting a picture with the journalist and premier in it as proof.  He said that PM has started turning his friends into his enemies after coming to power.

Similarly, notable anchor Junaid Muhammad said that Baig was “no saint” and he was unsure why people referred to him as a journalist. He, however, said that FIA had “just gone rogue and its masters gone bonkers”.

Some were more vociferously against the state’s actions like journalist Munizae Jahangir who said that the situation for media was getting worse. She said that the arrest was condemnable and that the government was deploying law enforcement agencies (LEAs) to terrorise journalists.

Journalist Reham Khan also said that she condemned the arrest. She questioned that if someone’s house was stormed the way FIA officials did in Baig’s case, was it a reasonable expectation that they would respond calmly?

Journalist Hamza Azhar Salam also said that the government was silencing critics by using LEAs. He opined that the government’s panic over journalists was reflected in several incidents like the banning of News One and the kidnapping of Sabir Mehmood Hashmi.

 

Then there was a different lot who completely disagreed with Baig and his actions. Several including journalists Imran Afzal Raja and Amnah Jabeen criticized Baig, saying that his actions were tantamount to ‘terrorism’.

Sindh Member of Provincial Assembly (MPA) Arsalan Taj also said that it seemed like he was looking at a terrorist at first. He said that such was the “mindset” of the people who thought they were above the law.

Several also said that journalism wasn’t a crime, but Baig’s actions were not appropriate. A student of law, Dawood Awan said that while journalism was not a crime, acting violently against authorities was.

Journalist Sehar Shinwari, meanwhile, said that the fiasco was a “slap on state and democracy” and if the state continued to allows such journalists to operate, similar incidents would happen.

Journalist Ahmad Noorani had a completely different take on the matter and pointed out that Baig was a “regular ISI official serving the organisation for the last thirty years” and wondered how it was possible that the government servant was a journalist.

The event was the second arrest made by law enforcement agencies in the past week over commentaries against the government. The FIA arrested a social media activist on Monday for running trends against Prime Minister Imran Khan.

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