'Censorious thug' former Pakistani foreign minister now in prison for 10 years

Rebel News' Ezra Levant labelled Shah Mahmood Qureshi a 'censorious thug' during a confrontation at a 2019 press conference. Qureshi, along with former prime minister Imran Khan were both found guilty of violating Pakistan's Official Secrets Act.

'Censorious thug' former Pakistani foreign minister now in prison for 10 years
X / ImranKhanPTI
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Former prime minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan, along with his former foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, are both rotting away behind bars.

The two were found guilty of violating the country's Official Secrets Act — and while Qureshi just recently called for a "free and just Pakistan for all" in a post to X on Monday, his track record shows he's interested in no such thing.

In 2019, the government of Pakistan curtailed the amount of space given by the press to jailed politicians, including another former prime minister, Nawaz Sharif. The media curbs were described by Daniel Bastard, the head of Reporters Without Borders' Asia-Pacific desk, as an "absolutely unacceptable violation of the principles of media pluralism."

Rebel News' Ezra Levant labelled Qureshi as a "censorious thug" during a confrontation at a 2019 press conference for a "Defend Media Freedom" event held by the United Kingdom and Canadian governments in London, England.

The confrontation came after a tweet was removed over complaints from the Pakistan government.

"You censored me, sir. I have a Twitter account in Canada and because I wrote something that (violated) some Pakistani blasphemy law, you complained to Twitter which took down my tweet in Canada," Levant told Qureshi, who demanded answers on why "Islamic supremacy in Pakistan is silencing my personal and journalistic freedom in Canada."

Qureshi did not answer Levant's question and instead would question Levant's tone.

"... They deleted a tweet they said violated Pakistani law. Twitter said that to me in an email. I'm in Canada. Twitter is in America. But Pakistan censored us," Levant explained further in another post.

The issue of press freedom has only gotten worse in Pakistan.

In the past year, media freedom in Pakistan has faced even more setbacks, particularly via "state-driven intimidation" and "predatory actions by some non-state actors," resulting in the targeting of over 200 journalists and bloggers through at least 70 legal notices.

The Freedom Network published an annual report titled "Erosion of Free Speech: The Silencing of Citizens, Political Parties, and Media," ahead of World Press Freedom Day on May 3 covering the period from May 2023 to April 2024.

The report highlighted a reduced tolerance for online dissent and a spike in attacks and harassment against journalists and bloggers. Four journalists were murdered during this period and said over 70 legal notices were sent to those in the media.

"Many came consequent to a ‘joint investigation team’ of various government departments tasked with identifying persons allegedly running a smear campaign against some judges; although, the chief justice later said he was not a complainant, and that the judiciary was being used to target free expression aimed at others.”

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