Saturday Feb 15 2020

'Venomous activities, incitement of violence': Pakistan approaches UK against activist Gul Bukhari

Social activist Gul Bukhari. Photo: Facebook

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 the British soil for nefarious activities against the state of Pakistan while abusing her freedom of speech. 

The correspondence, viewed exclusively by Geo News, comprises a four-page letter written by the PTI government to the British government stating that Gul Bukhari is engaged in a “vicious campaign” to spread negativity against Pakistan through her Twitter. 

The letter by the Pakistani government against Gul has been sent to the Home Office, police services and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in the United Kingdom. 

It asks for accountability of Gul Bukhari, including stopping her “inimical activities” on social media and an investigation into her “lifestyle”.

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

'Venomous social media activities, incitement of violence'

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

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

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The letter refers to a tweet dated January 12, 2020 by Gul Bukhari which was factually wrong, but went viral on social media. 

The letter to the UK government describes the said tweet as “intentional defamation and hate speech” that violated UK and Pakistani laws.

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

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 as per the law of the land for exploiting freedom of expression, using abusive language and indulging in hate speech”.

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Check Bukhari's lifestyle, letter asks British government

The letter also asks the British government to check Gul Bukhari’s lifestyle and her income sources. It makes mention of a recent trip by Gul Bukhari to Washington where she took part in a conference organized under the banner of South Asians against Terrorism & for Human Rights (SAATH).

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

Pakistan’s Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) has also 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 will file terrorism charges against her. 

The FIA has threatened that the agency will 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.”