Pakistani journalist Anas Mallick, who was in Afghanistan to report on the first anniversary of the Taliban takeover of the country, was kidnapped and physically attacked by the Taliban. However, Pakistani ambassador to neighboring Mansoor Ahmad Khan later confirmed on Friday that he is safe.
Mallick, who works for India’s WION News Channel, landed in Afghanistan on Wednesday to cover the Taliban takeover and the recent assassination of al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri in a US drone strike.
Reports of Anas Mallick’s disappearance started doing the rounds Thursday evening, a day after he reached Afghanistan.
His fellow journalist was one of the first to share the news of Anas Mallick’s disappearance via a tweet on Thursday evening.
She said his phones were unreachable and no information about him was available from the Pakistani embassy in Kabul, which had begun preliminary investigations with the Taliban government.
Pakistani Ambassador to Afghanistan Mansoor Ahmad Khan later confirmed on Friday that Mallick is now in Kabul and safe.
“As for reports about Pakistani journalist Anas Malik, I just spoke to him briefly by phone. He is in Kabul and safe. The embassy will keep in touch with him,” the envoy tweeted.
Pakistani Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto had also shared the information via Twitter. Mallick also took to Twitter to inquire about his safety, saying “I’m back”.
He was reported missing the next day after submitting a story about the hiding place where the al-Qaeda chief was killed in a drone attack. Anas Mallick recently had an interview with Pakistani Foreign Minister Bhutto on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Council (SCO) meeting in Tashkent.
Anas Mallick’s younger brother, Hassan Mallick, had tweeted: “My older brother and journalist Anas Mallick has been missing in Kabul for more than 12 hours. Authorities are requested to pursue the case and ensure that he is quickly and recovers safely. Prayers asked too.”
Mallick told the report of what happened, saying: “We were handcuffed, blindfolded and faced with the wildest accusations and then we were also questioned thoroughly about our journalistic credentials. Personal questions were hurled at us as well. Late last night. , at about 9:30 am (local time), I was transferred to a room where I was told I could walk free once the translator appears.”
He also revealed his traumatic experience by showing his torn clothes and injuries.
This was not Mallick’s first visit to the region. He had reported extensively on the takeover by the Taliban after the United States’ withdrawal last year. Importantly, the local producer and his driver are still being held by the Taliban. Though they said they will release them soon but there has been no update.
While covering the clashes between Afghan security forces and the Taliban on July 16, 2021, Pulitzer-winning Indian photojournalist Danish Siddiqui was illegally detained, tortured and killed by the Taliban, and his body was mutilated. This was not an isolated incident as there are many incidents related to attacking civilians, including journalists.
Siddiqui, 38, who was the lead photographer for Reuters in India, was killed in the Spin Boldak district of Kandahar province while covering the violence in Afghanistan.
“Danish, our loving son, was killed by the Taliban for simply carrying out his journalistic duties,” said Shahida Akhtar, the mother of Danish Siddiqui. “He was subjected to barbaric torture and mutilation while in custody. Danish always stood for honesty and integrity in his work. He always showed the pain and suffering of the people. He was brave and courageous all the time.” Born in New Delhi, Siddiqui leaves behind his wife Rike and two children.
More than 200 media outlets have shut down operations in Afghanistan and 7,000 media workers have lost their jobs since the Taliban took power in August last year, as the country’s economy continues to shrink.