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This Pakistani journalist narrowly escaped abduction by armed men on the highway

This Pakistani journalist narrowly escaped abduction by armed men  on the highway
From CBC - January 10, 2018

When a car swerved in front of his taxi and blocked off the highway, Taha Siddiqui initially thought it was someone with road rage. Then he saw the guns.

"One scene keeps repeating in my mind of the first guy getting out of the car with a pistol in his hand and coming toward me, because I thought they were just going to shoot me right there," the Pakistani journalist told As It Happens host Carol Off.

"I feel likeI have been given a new life,and also I feel very confused as to how this miracle happened that I could escape."

Siddiqui, 33,a correspondent forFrance 24, was in a taxi on the Islamabad highway on Wednesday heading to the airport to catch a flight to London when acar condoned off the road. At least eight armed men emerged.

He said the first man with the pistol approached him and said: "What do you think of yourself? Do you think you aresomebody?"

'I want to speak the truth but I also want to live, so it's a tough choice for me now.' -TahaSiddiqui, journalist

The men hauled him out of the taxi, he said. They took his phone and his passport. Theytold him they were going take him somewhere and not to resist.

He tried to flee, he said, but they beat him on the side of the road.

A military vehicle drove by and Siddiquisaid he desperately tried to wave down a solider to help him. But one of the thugs gestured at the soldier to move on, and he obeyed.

"That's when I realized they are in full authority here and nobody's going to intervene in this situation," he said.

Crackdown on critics and journalists

Authorities have been cracking down on critics of Pakistan's powerful military,which exerts influenceover policy and security in the country.

Five liberal social media activistswere abducted in Pakistan in January 2017, only to resurface weeks later.

Three say they were tortured by the military, Al Jazeera reports, and one has since applied for asylum in the U.K.

Pakistan's security forces have denied involvement.

Taha Siddiqui, a Pakistani journalist, was beaten and threatened, and only escaped by running through oncoming traffic. pic.twitter.com/odsasHDa85

@AsadHashim

Pakistanis one of the most dangerous countries in the worldfor journalists, ranking139thout of 180 on the World Press Freedom Index maintained by Reporters Without Borders.

"The beating and attempted abduction of Taha Siddiqui is the latest in a deeply worrying pattern of attacks on journalists in Pakistan,"Omar Waraich, deputy South Asia director at human rights group Amnesty International, said in a written statement.

"Pakistani journalists have a right to carry out their work freely and without fear. Journalism is not a crime, but attacking journalists is. These crimes must be immediately and effectively investigated."

'I just ran for my life'

'I want to speak the truth'

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