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February 15, 2020

UK urged to take action against Gul Bukhari over online ‘propaganda’

Top Story

February 15, 2020

LONDON: The government of Prime Minister Imran Khan has urged the British government to take action against journalist and social media activist Gul Bukhari for allegedly using British soil against the state of Pakistan while abusing freedom of speech rules and western values.

This correspondent has exclusively seen the four-page letter written by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) government to the British government claiming that Gul Bukhari is engaged in a “vicious campaign” to campaign negativity through her Twitter feed. The letter by the Pakistani government against the vocal critic has been sent to Home Office, police services and Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) – asking for accountability of Gul Bukhari, including stopping her “inimical activities” on social media and an investigation into her income sources.

Sources in the Home Office and Foreign Office confirmed that they had received the letter from Pakistan but refused to say what, if any, action the government will take against Gul Bukhari.

The memo asks the British government to investigate Bukhari and alleges that she is involved in propagating negativity and “hostile agenda” against the armed forces and the state institutions of Pakistan using British soil.

“Her venomous social media activities promote divisive tendencies and incitement of violence,” the letter says about Gul, who is a British Pakistani national and has some members of the family permanently settled in the UK.

The letter refers to a tweet dated 12 January 2020 by Gul Bukhari which was factually wrong but went viral. That was the time when the issue of Army Chief’s service extension was in public debate and lots of fake news were spread on social media. The letter to the UK government terms the said tweet as “Intentional defamation and hate speech” that violated UK and Pakistani laws.

The government of Pakistan, through official letter, has told the UK authorities that it is a matter of grave concern for Pakistan that “free hand” has been given to “anti-Pakistan elements using British soil to create trouble in Pakistan and project their false anti-Pakistan propaganda”.

The letter asks the British government to “stop inimical activities” of Gul Bukhari on social media. It further asks the UK government to hold Gul Bukhari “accountable for as per law of the land for exploiting freedom of expression, using abusive language and indulging in hate speech”.

The letter also asks the British government to check Gul Bukhari’s income sources. It makes mention of a recent trip by Gul Bukhari to Washington where she took part in a conference organised by former Pakistan ambassador Hussain Haqqani, academic and physician Muhaamad Taqi and others under the banner of South Asians against Terrorism & for Human Rights (SAATH).

The letter draws attention of the British government towards British Public Order Act 1986 on abusive words, behaviours, displays and writings which are offensive in nature and UK’s Terrorism Act of 2006.

Pakistan’s Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) has issued a statement demanding that Bukhari appear in Pakistan for questioning about her alleged online propaganda against the government within 30 days or else the agency would file terrorism charges against her. The FIA has threatened that the agency would seek Bukhari’s extradition from the United Kingdom through Interpol, and could seize any property that Bukhari has in Pakistan.

When contacted by this correspondent, Gul Bukhari said she had not been formally served with any papers. “I will respond once I receive the papers.”