- Associated Press - Friday, June 5, 2020

ISLAMABAD (AP) - A Pakistani human rights group and several senior journalists on Friday lambasted a lawmaker from the ruling party, saying he has been inciting to violence against a local TV station’s news presenter.

According to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan and a council of newspaper editors, lawmaker Fayyazul Hassan Chuhan made incendiary remarks, saying the popular Geo TV anchor Hamid Mir was allegedly a traitor.

The statement accuses Chuhan of endangering the life of Mir and his family. Mir, known for his criticism of corrupt officials, has been targeted in militant attacks the past.

In the statement, Harris Khalique, secretary-general of the rights commission, and the editors urged Prime Minister Imran Khan to take notice of the actions of Chuhan, a minister in the provincial government in Punjab and a figure known for stirring controversies.

In 2018, Chuhan was removed from the provincial government after verbally attacking the country’s Hindu minority. However, he was brought back into the Cabinet last year in a move aimed at countering the opposition amid the government’s decreasing popularity amid spiking nflation and soaring food prices.

Chuhan’s remarks come amid increasing pressure on journalists in Pakistan from the government and security agencies. Being a dissident - or even raising a critical voice - in Pakistan has grown more dangerous, regardless of whether the target is a political party, the judiciary or the powerful military and security agencies.

Pakistan is one of the most dangerous places in the world for journalists to work and has witnessed an intensified crackdown on journalists, human rights workers, activists and members of civil society in recent years.

Rights groups say Prime Minister Khan’s government, elected in 2018, has failed to protect freedom of speech in Pakistan.

Chuhan also assailed Mir’s late father, Waris Mir, a columnist and a respected university professor who taught journalism. The elder Mir was awarded Pakistan’s highest civil award in recognition of his work as a journalist in 2013.

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