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June 3, 1999
Najam Sethi's BBC interview provoked arrest
Friday Times editor Najam Sethi who was released yesterday after nearly three weeks in custody was asked only one question by the Inter Service Intelligence of Pakistan: ''how many times did you visit India?''
The ISI did not ask him any questions about his speech in New Delhi or about the interview he gave to a team from the British Broadcasting Corporation which was in Pakistan to do a story about the corrupt deals of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharief and his close associates.
Sethi told the Urdu service of the BBC last night that it was his interview for them that enraged the Nawaz Sharief government.
A night before his arrest he had received a telephone call from Saifur Rahman of the ISI threatening him with dire consequences. ''I knew at once that they would make my speech in New Delhi a pretext for my arrest,'' he said.
Sethi related how on the night of his arrest 12 people, including two policemen, entered his room by breaking open the window. ''They beat me with the butts of their guns and kept telling me they could kill me. I was then blind-folded and thrown into a room before being handed over to the ISI. The ISI interrogated me in a proper way,'' he said.
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