KARACHI: A Pakistani TV journalist, who was released from detention in Afghanistan this week after being arrested for travelling without documents, today said it was a frightening experience for him and he did not want to go back to that country again.
Faizullah Khan of ARY News was arrested in the eastern Nangarhar province in April and later sentenced by the Jalalabad court for four years for illegally travelling to the country.
Khan was initially charged for spying but his employer ARY News rejected the charges, saying he was there to perform official duties.
The court had also rejected spying allegation and sentenced the journalist for travelling without documents. On September 28, the Afghan court, however, gave orders for his release.
Wearing a black shalwar kameez, Faizullah said his time in Afghanistan was a frightening experience for him.
"I never want to go back to Afghanistan after my experience."
But Faizullah, a journalist for the last eight years, admitted that he was at fault that he had gone to Afghanistan without proper documents and passport but he added that he never knew he would land up in Afghanistan.
He said that he went on an assignment to interview officials of the Tehreek-e-Taliban.
"Those days, negotiations were going on between the government and the TTP. I wanted to interview the TTP leadership on the issue," he added.
"I thought I would be interviewing them in the tribal areas of Pakistan but I was also shocked when my contacts led me into Afghanistan for the interviews as I didn't know the location and carried no passport with me," he said.
The first interview took place in TTP's media cell in Nangarhar, Afghanistan.
Done with the interview, Khan was on the way to interview other TTP officials when he was detained at Lalpura Check post by Afghan intelligence officials.
"With no travel documents, they thought I was a spy. And when they saw the interview tapes, the intelligence officials were even more perturbed.
Since the interview had taken place in Afghanistan, the officials said that it was not good for their country's image as everyone presumes that the TTP is present in Pakistan but at that time, they were present in Afghanistan and I interviewed them there," he said.
Faizullah, who was sentenced in July, said that his time in the Nangarhar Jail, housing 2,000 prisoners, was the most difficult.
"There were 17 to 18 prisoners staying with me. The officials did not torture me but they said negative things about Pakistan," he claimed.
"In jail, the prisoners received very bad food, mostly vegetables. We used to make our own food but when the Americans and UN officials came for inspection, they would hide our stoves," he said.
"I had lost all hope of being released anytime soon. The intelligence officials had said that I would never be able to see the sun again," the journalist said.