Pakistani diplomats and Canadian MPs of Pakistani origin are threatening journalists they deem objectionable in Canada. They are also wielding their influence over Canadian politics on all levels.
Recently, the Pakistan High Commission Office in Ottawa attacked MP Maxime Bernier over his tweet:
“Canada under extreme Liberal multiculturalism: While a statue of our country’s founder is being removed in one city, a park was recently named after Pakistan’s founder in another, in the presence of M103 Liberal MP sponsor. Pakistan independence from India led to 1M deaths.”
In response, Pakistan High Commission Office circulated an email criticizing Bernier for “targeting diversity, multiculturalism & [MP] Iqra Khalid.”
Senator Salma Ataullahjan also joined in the criticism of Bernier, “As a caucus colleague and a proud Pakistani-Canadian parliamentarian, I’m incredibly disappointed with this tweet. This kind of rhetoric creates division. Is that your aim? If so, what is your end game with this sort of identity politics?”
Ataullahjan’s tweet not only served to defend the Pakistan High Commission’s point of view, it also revealed her own place in identity politics.
When I saw her recently, she expressed her virulent anger at me about my tweet in which I criticized her (along with all the Canadian parliamentarians of Pakistani origin) for not criticizing Pakistan for siding with Saudi Arabia over Canada in the recent Saudi-Canada row regarding human rights.
“I am Canadian and I stand by Canada,” she told me.
“But madam, it’s not enough,” I countered. “As a Canadian senator you must denounce Pakistan and Saudi Arabia both, but unfortunately you are celebrating Pakistan day with Pakistani diplomats.”
MP Iqra Khalid threatened and harassed me and the TAG TV reporter on several occasions. She asked some Pakistani event organizers not invite us to their events. Is that how a Canadian member parliamentarian should behave with a Canadian citizen, not to mention the media?
However, this is nothing new. MPs Iqra Khalid, Salma Zahid and Omar Alghabra have all threatened and harassed me and my wife publicly in the past.
Even though I wrote an open letter to PM Justin Trudeau and emailed to it almost all Canadian parliamentarians detailing this harassment, I have never been contacted by any government office about these threats.
Since then, many hardships have been imposed upon me by Pakistani diplomats in Canada as well as by the above-mentioned parliamentarians. At one point, due to the severity of the threats, I thought about seeking asylum in the United States, but my challenging nature always encouraged me to continue my struggle here.
Just recently, I received another chilling threat from Pakistan’s consul general to Toronto, Mr. Imran Siddiqui, who threatened to “fix” me as well as fellow journalist Tarek Fatah and the TAG TV team.
Unfortunately, this was the first time in my 19 years in Canada that I started feeling that no government institution would save me and my freedom of expression from intervention by a foreign government and its sponsored Canadian parliamentarians.
Now, I seek answers from the Canadian government and law enforcement agencies. As a Canadian citizen and journalist, am I an open target of Pakistani diplomats’ threats and intimidations?
Also, at the height of the identity politics game in Canada, how can Canadian parliamentarians of Pakistani origin work hand in hand with a foreign government to hurt Canadian citizens?
Yet, I remain hopeful that mainstream Canadian media, politicians and law enforcement agencies will pay attention to my appeal in order to protecting Canadian citizens and their freedom of expression from foreign governments in Canada.