Journalist Cyril Almeida has found himself in grave trouble with the authorities in regards to an impending case of treason against him.
According to a tweet he put out last night, he has been placed on the Exit Control List (ECL) and a non-bailable arrest warrant has been issued in his name.
It is being noted that Almeida failed to show up in court on multiple occasions, which is why the court will summon him through an arrest to make him appear for the proceedings. Reportedly, Almeida’s lawyer has also appealed for a bailable arrest warrant, instead of a non-bailable one. However, upon the lawyer’s inability to grant assurance to the court that Almeida will appear in court on time affirmatively, the non-bailable arrest warrant remains in effect.
Spoke to the lawyer, there is a warrant, am back on the ECL and will have to appear before the court on Oct 8… how’s your Monday been? ????
— cyril almeida (@cyalm) September 24, 2018
If you are wondering what has transpired in regards to the ongoing case so far, read on.
A case was filed by civil society member Amina Malik, who seeks action against Nawaz Sharif owing to his controversial interview published in Dawn by Dawn staffer Cyril Almeida in May 2018. The case also takes into account the alleged betrayal of PM Shahid Khaqan Abbasi of his official oath. He is being investigated for disclosing the minutes of a National Security Council (NSC) meeting to Nawaz, who had by then been barred from holding public office for life. These meeting minutes also formed part of the infamous Dawn Leaks scandal, in which Almeida made public the confidential meeting minutes of a discussion between the civil government and military.
Although a lot was said in Nawaz’s interview, here is the most controversial statement from it, which also forms the basis of this suit:
“Militant organizations are active. Call them non-state actors, should we allow them to cross the border and kill 150 people in Mumbai? Explain it to me. Why can’t we complete the trial?” — a reference to the Mumbai attacks-related trials which have stalled in a Rawalpindi anti-terrorism court. This has riled up the public and the governing bodies alike, as this is considered as major treason and a potential threat to national security as well.
Turning back to Almeida in specific, however, let’s see what some in the public have to say. And by the public, we mean the honorable social media warriors.
Dude! you should have been on ECL long ago. No one should get away with what you did to malign Pak Army.
— Anwar Lodhi (@AnwarLodhi) September 24, 2018
Further comments of a similar nature are not needed to ascertain the trend here. People who are reprimanding Cyril’s involvement in publishing the interview fall short of logical arguments due to their overzealous support for the Pakistan Army. Unabated support leads to a lack of transparency for the public, who has all the right to hear the findings of an interview conducted in a democratic state that supports freedom of speech. At least in theory, right? Whether Nawaz’s claims have merit is a matter for the courts, but shouldn’t the publishing of such comments as the second one, which is calling for Almedia to be hanged, be subject to censorship as well?
Fortunately, there are voices of reason that are questioning why the authorities are hell-bent on pressurizing a civilian journalist. Speaking strictly about the interview, if Nawaz makes a statement, and Cyril publishes it word by word, how is that biased reporting? Sure, he may have personal political allegiances but how is it that playing out in the interview, per say?
The hashtag #IStandWithCyril is circulating on Twitter. Here are some logical points to note here.
Proposal: nobody is allowed to call anyone a “traitor” until Pervez Musharraf’s treason trial has run its course, a verdict issued, all appeals exhausted and the judgement implemented in full. All those in favour? #IStandWithCyril
— Khurram Husain (@KhurramHusain) September 24, 2018
Fair enough? Or is he too big a fish to fry because he was head of the military itself?
— Saleem (@memzarma) September 24, 2018
*Note: For those who don’t know, Hayat Preghal is a Pashtun activist and the social media lead for the Pashtun Taffauz Movement. He is currently in the state’s custody with Amnesty International creating urgency for his swift release*
Treasonous offences that warrant immediate action: interviewing a former prime minister and publishing it.
Treasonous offences that we are happy to forget about: suspending the constitution and placing the country under emergency rule to maintain your power. #IStandwithCyril
— Nida Kirmani (@nidkirm) September 24, 2018
Does service in the armed forces come with the free pass to criticize and undermine the state institutions?
Totally unacceptable for a journalist to be threatened with arrest and treason for interviewing a former prime minister. Journalism is NOT a crime. #IStandWithCyril
— Umer Ali (@IamUmer1) September 24, 2018
Yes, did we miss the memo on this crucial development?
Once upon a time, a PM of a country ASKED his military to stop feeding and take some real actions against terrorists or we’ll face isolation internationally.
The news was leaked, investigations took place, PM issued a notification that we will take action.#IStandWithCyril
— Anas Tipu (@teepusahab) September 24, 2018
Somebody give this man a cookie for turning the series of events into what they really seem like: an unrealistic fairytale, only with villains and vigilantes all around.
The Constitution exists to protect rights of freedom of speech & press freedom under Article 19,& the right to information under article 19-A. Initiating a witch hunt against a journalist just because some don’t agree with the matter he reported is pure fascism. #IStandWithCyril
— Usama Khilji (@UsamaKhilji) September 24, 2018
Ok, let’s just talk law and facts then. If some provision labels him as treasonous, another protects Almeida from the state’s witch hunt.
“I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”#IStandWithCyril
— Fawad Talat (@FawadTalat) September 24, 2018
And that’s pretty much it. As long as your speech isn’t hurting another human, bullying them, or depriving them of a safe space, support each other’s right to speak up and create an atmosphere conducive for constructive debate.
The point of these observations isn’t to question the law on the matter. That will take its course and Cyril Almeida should show up in court if that it is what the law demands. However, this latest pressure tactic against Cyril comes at a time when India Pakistan is going full antagonistic on each other. And we do wonder whether the sudden urgency has to do with showing India Pakistan’s intolerance for any element that in our view remotely disparages the country.
Sure, India has gone full offensive with their bombastic speeches lately but why do we have to put our own people in the line of fire to prove a point?