ANP, journalists’ bodies, civil society rally for media freedom
PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Civil Society Network on Friday staged a protest rally against the attack on senior journalist Hamid Mir and possible curb on the Jang Group, the country’s largest media organisation.
Led by Awami National Party leader and former provincial minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain, Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) vice-president Shamim Shahid, PFUJ assistant secretary general Ziaul Haq, Civil Society Network head Arshad Haroon and others, the rally was attended by a large number of journalists, political workers and members of the civil society.
The protesters were holding banners and placards inscribed with slogans in favour of Jang Group and against the attack on Hamid Mir and curbs on media. The participants of the rally also condemned the killing of human rights activist and senior lawyer Rashid Rahman in Multan.The rally starting from the Deans Trade Centre culminated at a public meeting at the Peshawar Press Club.
Condemning the attack on Hamid Mir, the speakers stressed the need for impartial inquiry into the incident so that the perpetrators could be exposed and awarded exemplary punishment.They said those raising voice for democracy and rights of the people were being targeted. They said the people would have to forge unity for sake of democracy and eradication of terrorism.
The protesters condemned the revengeful activities against Geo News and Jang Group and declared that curbs on the media group would not be tolerated.“If any action is taken against the Jang Group, it would be resisted and freedom of Press and rights of the media workers would be protected,” Mian Iftikhar said.
The speakers said that Jang Group struggled for the cause of democracy and the rights of the people. They said a conspiracy was being hatched to put a curb on the largest media group in the country.
They also expressed concern over the negative attitude of certain media groups and urged the media owners to unite for freedom of the Press and freedom of expression.They urged the quarters concerned to refrain from imposing sanctions on Jang Group or else they would protest against any such move.
Online adds: Meanwhile, talking to Geo News, ANP Secretary Information Senator Zahid Khan said his party will strongly oppose any ban on Geo News and will not allow the channel to be labelled as traitor.
He said difference of opinion was everyone’s right and it was a grave crime to label someone as traitor. He said even the ANP had been labelled as traitor.The ANP leader said that Article 6 of the Constitution makes it clear against whom a treason case can be initiated. He added that allegations against Geo TV such as treason are tarnishing the country’s image.
The ANP senator cautioned those levelling allegations against Hamid Mir, stating that when the Geo News senior anchor will return he would show them the truth.Zahid Khan said Imran Khan should have called Geo TV a traitor and boycotted the channel prior to the elections when his party was being given extensive coverage.
Pakistan News Agencies Council (PNAC) has demanded of the government to ensure full protection to journalists from terrorism.A meeting of the PNAC was held here under the chair of its President Mohsin Jamil Baig. The meeting, attended by secretary general Shakeel Ahmad Turabi (Sana News), vice president Javed Iqbal Qurieshi (INP), Ammar Yasir (NNI), secretary finance Muhammad Aslam Khan (Inter News) and others, also approved a resolution floated by Turabi, condemning the murder attempts on journalists Hamid Mir, Raza Rumi, and others, demanding measures to ensure the safety and security of media personnel and their assets.
The gathering also expressed dire regrets over a viciously feuding media, stressing that both media and governmental institutions should perform their duties within their prescribed ambits. “Media concerns should perform their duties as responsibly as possible, and respect national institutions,” it was stressed.
The meeting strongly castigated, what it called, an ineffective Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra), busy enjoying perks and freebies. “Had Pemra been effective and active in performing its duties, this painful anomaly would never have surfaced,” it was stressed.Joint efforts for reconciliation among various feuding media forums were also stressed by forming joint committees of APNS, CPNE, PBC, PFUJ and others.The meeting also prayed for speedy recovery of renowned journalist Hamid Mir
Our correspondent adds from Karachi: Special Public Prosecutor of ATC-III Abdul Maroof has rejected the stance of certain individuals and groups seeking ban on Geo TV, saying that was quite unfair to demand banning of Geo TV or banning Daily Jang or another periodical.
While talking to ‘The News’, Maroof said it was high time to reject such stances instead of expressing sympathy with a renowned anchorperson Hamid Mir who was attacked and injured seriously.
Maroof mentioned that he himself had paid a visit to anchorperson Hamid Mir and had enquired after him. He said he was among the visitors who had written down their notes in the visitors’ book and all his prayers were for Hamid Mir and for his swift recovery.
Maroof, while strongly condemning the attack, said Hamid Mir had to face a brutal attack, and in present circumstances, it was a harsh view to reject Geo TV as it was against the principle of freedom of speech and freedom of expression.He expressed the hope that things would be settled down and attackers would be taken to task.
Our correspondent adds from Lahore: Meanwhile, leaders of Human Liberation Commission Pakistan (HLCP) and Masiha Millat Party (MMP) have saluted Geo/Jang Group for their courage in the face of threats.
Those praising the media group for its services in the fields of human rights and democracy were HLCP chairman and MMP leader Aslam Pervaiz Sahotra, MMP Secretary General Pastor Munir Shahid, Punjab President William Javed, Punjab Secretary Yousaf Kamran, Punjab Vice President Aimen Masih and HLCP Secretary Advocate Naseeb Anjum Chaudhry.
The MMP representatives, in a press statement issued here on Friday, lauded the media conglomerate for standing by the attacked senior anchorperson Hamid Mir and calling for the arrests of his attackers despite attempts being made to cancel Geo News licence.
The party also condemned self-proclaimed agent of agencies, Zaid Hamid’s Supreme Court petition labelling human rights activist Asma Jahangir a ‘traitor’. It said the MMP had held a press conference along with representatives of minorities and marginalised women and labour supporting Asma Jahangir’s activist career and condemning the move by Zaid Hamid.
The party said it would hold nationwide protests if Asma Jahangir and the seven other journalists maligned in the petition are charged with treason.
The statement said the MMP stands firmly on the issues of press freedom and human rights and will not accept any curbs on free speech. It noted with disappointment that Hamid Mir’s police investigation efforts had not resulted in the arrest of his attackers. The MMP said had Hamid Mir’s attackers been arrested, Geo TV and Jang Group would not have been challenged by the public on the grounds of evidence and they would have not faced mudslinging by the rival media outlets.
The MMP said Pakistan’s enemies are benefiting from divisions within the journalist community. It noted with disappointment that rallies being taken out to support Pakistan’s armed forces are misguided, as Geo TV and Jang Group are fighting against a brand of indiscriminate terrorism that is also targeting young Pakistani soldiers who are dying by dozens while defending the country. They said these pro-Army protests should have been held before the attack on Hamid Mir when hundreds of jawans were martyred while fighting in North Waziristan.
The MMP said every institution and citizen is bound by the Constitution and must respect it. The party also condemned HRCP’s Rashid Rahman’s killing on Wednesday and demanded immediate arrest of his killers.