The New York Times' Pakistan correspondent's house was searched by Rangers on Tuesday as part of a 'terrorist' search operation.
“Rangers have shown up at my house, saying they want to search the premises but have no documents or warrants,” Salman Masood said on Twitter.
Rangers have shown up at my house, saying they want to search the premises but have no documents or warrants#islamabad— Salman Masood (@salmanmasood) January 12, 2016
“A man in civvies, with them, says he is from ‘intelligence’ but not giving more identification. Insists on property search,” he added in another post.
A man in civvies, with them, says he is from "intelligence" but not giving more identification. Insists on property search— Salman Masood (@salmanmasood) January 12, 2016
High-profile expulsion: Declan Walsh declared persona non grata
A senior police official in the capital informed the journalist that a "terrorist search operation was underway".
Spoke with a senior Islamabad police official. He said a "terrorist search operation underway."— Salman Masood (@salmanmasood) January 12, 2016
Rangers troops back,along with a senior officer. Hope they find the terrorist pic.twitter.com/ZiAk8tTFZ8— Salman Masood (@salmanmasood) January 12, 2016
Pictures posted by Masood of the search operation showed Rangers searching Masood's house for evidence as part of a “routine search operation.”
"They searched the drawers of my study table and asked if I had any illegal weapons hidden in the house," he said.
Rangers even searched the drawers of my study table and asked if I had any illegal weapons hidden in the house.— Salman Masood (@salmanmasood) January 12, 2016
Rangers say it's a "routine search operation" pic.twitter.com/ItZQAi7mjG— Salman Masood (@salmanmasood) January 12, 2016
Chaudhry Nisar orders inquiry
Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan taking notice of the 'search operation' conducted by Rangers at Masood's residence, ordered an inquiry.
“How, why and on whose orders was the raid conducted at Salman Masood’s house,” read a statement issued from his ministry, adding that an explanation has been sought from police and relevant security agencies.
“Such operations and raids are not acceptable at any cost,” said Nisar.
In June 2013, Declan Walsh, The New York Times Pakistan bureau chief, was officially placed in category A of the Black List (BL), with the government declaring him persona non grata, documents revealed.
According to the letter issued by Shahid Riaz, assistant director (BL Cell) at the directorate general for immigration and passports, Walsh had been blacklisted on the recommendation of the interior ministry and will no longer be able to avail visa facilities without the prior approval of the immigration and passports authority.
Police raids and anti-militant operations are common in Islamabad, with the capital criss-crossed by Rangers and other security force units.
But it is unclear if the search of Masood's home was a routine operation, as stated by police, or if it was an attempt to intimidate the journalist -- which Human Rights Watch lawyer Saroop Ijaz said was a "distinct possibility".
Either way, Ijaz told AFP, it was not acceptable to deprive someone of the fundamental right to privacy.
Ijaz also recalled "the long history of Pakistani security forces using strong arm tactics against the press, and their history with New York Times".
The press in general comes under regular attack in Pakistan, where more than 70 journalists have been killed in the line of duty since 2001, according to the UN. It ranked the country among the worst for unresolved cases of violence against the media.
Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.
For more information, please see our Comments FAQ