Pak scribe receives death threat in US: CPJ

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New York, Apr 8: Pakistani editor of a weekly published here has allegedly received a death threat for promoting a beauty pageant, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has said.

Majeed Babar, Executive Editor of the Weekly Asia Tribune, said a man called him on March 29 and told him in Urdu, ''We will cut you to pieces,'' a CPJ statement revealed. Babar said the threat was linked to opinion columns and paid advertisements promoting the beauty pageant Miss Pakistan World in his print and online weekly newspaper. The weekly is a multilingual publication, consisting of content in English and other languages, aimed at New York's large South Asian community.

The columns are by a California-based contributor Imam Shumshad Nasir, who is an activist of the Ahmadiya sect, most members of which were expelled from Pakistan in the 1970s because they were considered ''non-Muslims'' by the government, it was stated.

CPJ's Executive Director Joel Simon said, ''We call upon the New York authorities to fully investigate reports of threats. They must send a clear signal to those who seek to intimidate or censor journalists.'' The CPJ is a New York-based independent, non-profit organisation that works to safeguard press freedom worldwide.

Babar left Pakistan in 2004 after threats to his life because of his work for US newspapers in the area along the Pak-Afghan border.

He was given refugee status in 2006 and was reunited with his wife and four children last year in New York.

Babar, who filed a complaint with the New York police, told the CPJ that he has been under threat since early March. He told the CPJ that a columnist Ali Mujahid from a rival newspaper demanded that he stop publishing columns by Imam Shumshad.

However, Mujahid denied he made any such threat.

Babar said about a week later, another man Sardar Imtiaz confronted him and demanded that the weekly stop publishing columns by Shumshad, saying, ''You are working against the values of Islam.'' He said he will continue to publish the paper despite the threats.

This is not the first conflict within the Pakistani media in New York. In June last year, the CPJ wrote to Mayor Michael Bloomberg seeking a probe into threats made against the editors of two New York-based Urdu-language weekly newspapers.


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