The arrest warrants for Almeida have been issued on account of his non-appearance in court. The treason is alleged over a May 2018 interview of Nawaz Sharif, where Sharif made hugely controversial remarks about the Mumbai 2011 attacks, and against Abbasi for revealing details of a NSC meeting to Sharif.

An investigation into Sharif’s comments on the Mumbai attacks — which were by all counts stunning for a former Prime Minister to make — and into Abbasi’s possible violation of code of conduct of PM is fair; it is however debatable whether this investigation should take shape under the formidable ‘treason’ charge. However, how can treason be alleged agaisnt the journalist, whose only crime was to report in exact quotation marks, an interview with a politician? The provisos in the law that puts a bar on revealing sensitive, often security-related information are necessary for state secrets. Yet, voluntarily given interviews to the press by politicians do not fall in this category. The investigation is of comments made by a former PM — shooting the messenger who merely reported his words does not make sense. Implicating the journalist, who interviewed a former Prime Minister, and issuing arrest warrants for that journalist, makes light of the treason clause in the constitution.

In hindsight, was this contentious story harmful? Yes, those remarks by Sharif were responsible for an international frenzy, with Indian media wrongly portraying Sharif’s comments as a confession of guilt for Mumbai. But the indictment of a journalist whose byline appeared on the story, begs a question that we as journalists must ask ourselves — should we stop reporting integral events and statements from heads of State if we can foresee their consequences? Are we to bear the burden of the effect the words of a former premier can bring about, instead of the person who spoke them? Holding a journalist responsible for publishing an interview of a former premier will have enormous consequences for the future of Pakistani journalism. This treason charge, like others before it, will go down in history. As usual, for the wrong reasons.