Veteran Pakistani journalist Marvi Sirmed’s Islamabad residence was found ransacked on Thursday. The journalist took to Twitter to announce that eight years after her house was robbed in 2010, it had been broken-in and ransacked while the family was away in Lahore on Eid vacation. According to sources, the modus operandi was similar to the robbery in 2010.
So far, two laptops, one smartphone and passports of family members were recorded as missing. Interestingly no jewellery, apart from Sirmed’s wedding ring and two bangles, was found missing.
“I don’t know who would want to rob my house as I don’t even have precious jewellery or such valuables here,” said Sirmed told The Daily Times, of whom she is a correspondent. Raza Rumi, the editor of The Daily Times posted photos on Twitter of the robbery. She said that she has filed a police complaint, but a case is yet to be lodged.
Sirmed would not speculate who was behind the break-in but she has been on the radar of Pakistan intelligence agencies for promoting friendly ties with India. She has also been vocal in her criticism of militant groups.
The incident raises concerns it is part of heavy handed crackdown by the military and the secret service on rights defenders and journalists.
Waqas Goraya, a prominent Pakistani blogger, had earlier alleged that his family had received threatening calls telling him to ‘shut up’ on social media.
Gul Bukhari, another prominent journalist and activist, was kidnapped earlier this month and released hours after being illegally detained.
Journalists, political parties and social media condemned the incident and expressed solidarity with Sirmed.
Awami National Party (ANP) leader Afrasiab Khattak said: “Use of extra judicial methods like abductions, forcing cable operators to block TV channels, disrupting newspaper distribution by brute force and resorting to “technical dacoities” for crushing dissent is the new normal. Welcome to the rule of deep state.”
Journalist Naila Inayat said: “Intimidating journalists now a new normal in Pakistan. Marvi Sirmed’s house in Islamabad ransacked. Laptops, smartphone, passports of family members among other travel documents taken.”
Journalist Owais Tohid said: “It’s highly condemnable that residence of Marvi Sirmed and Sirmed Manzoor was ransacked. It has happened before to them, high time for authorities to give us believable answer as who are the culprits. With you in solidarity Marvi.”