Attack on Business Recorder, Aaj TV offices condemned: APNS executive committee meeting held -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Attack on Business Recorder, Aaj TV offices condemned: APNS executive committee meeting held

KARACHI (May 25 2007): Executive Committee of the All Pakistan Newspapers Society at its meeting held on May 22, 2007 at Islamabad under the chairmanship of its President, Hameed Haroon condemned the attack on the offices of the Business Recorder and Aaj TV on May 12, 2007.

He urged upon the Federal Government to institute a judicial inquiry into the matter and evolve a rapid response system to provide security and protection to the premises of media establishments and to the life of the media-men,” stated a press release of the Society.

Muhammad Aslam Kazi, Secretary General of the Society announced that the Executive Committee considered the report of the Facts Finding Commission formed by the APNS President, Hameed Haroon on receipt of complaint of violence against Daily Business Recorder (BR) and Aaj TV. The Commission consisted of leading Human Rights activists namely:

Owais Aslam Ali (Convenor of the Commission), Syed Iqbal Haider, Ghazi Salahuddin, Jamil Yousuf, Zohra Yousuf and Uzma Noorani. The Commission considered the following issues as requested by the APNS.

1. Were the buildings of Aaj TV and Business Recorder attacked?

2. Involvement of the Govt, political parties or agencies in point 1, above?

3. Is there any merit to the complaints/observations of the Ministry? The Commission also considered the hand-written observations of Secretary Information that Aaj TV broadcast some provocative material: The Commission having visited the premises and saw the damage caused by the alleged gun-fire. They also viewed and examined the recordings of the telecast of Aaj TV on May 12 and 14, 2007.

THE FINDINGS OF THE COMMISSION WERE AS UNDER:

CROSS FIRE: The contention that the building of Aaj TV was solely caught in the cross-fire was found incorrect. The Commission noted that due to location of the offices of Aaj TV at a place where a battle between two rival groups was being fought in the afternoon of May 12, 2007, it was able to provide live coverage of the event.

Not in cross fire, the Aaj TV/Business Recorder were targeted when the gunmen found that they were being photographed and caught by cameras. They on realisation that they are being shown on Aaj TV, turned their guns at the premises of Aaj TV to stop the coverage.

The Commission also noted that the premises were fired by both the rival groups as bullets ware found on the both sides of the building. The Commission was complained by the establishment of Aaj TV that despite repeated requests, the government functionaries and law enforcing agencies failed to provide protection against the attack on Aaj TV and Business Recorder for about six hours.

Involvement Issue: The Commission noted that the shooters have been filmed in the recording provided by the Secretary Information and can easily be identified by law enforcing agencies. The Commission observed that it was behind its jurisdiction to identify the party/group involved in the attack.

OBSERVATIONS OF THE MINISTRY INFORMATION: The Commission gone through the hand-written observations of Secretary Information and found as under:

1. “Ethnic riots have started. People are being beaten in their houses.”

During the May 12 transmission no such words or sentences were used by any of Aaj news team us is evident from the scanning of the recordings provided by the Secretary Information.

2. “Corps Commander’s office has been surrounded.”

It was verified that the Aaj TV anchor, during a telephone talk, asked one of its reporters if such information is true. The reporter denied the voracity of such information instead clarified that several people had staged a sit-in in front of the Corps Commander’s Office, as they believe that help could only come through this office.

3. “Chief Justice Sindh High Court has summoned Corps Commander”

Like all the other TV channels of Pakistan, Aaj TV telecast such information, which was denied by the Sindh High Court through all the major dailies of Pakistan. Moreover, as we received the updated news, we ran tickers of correction.

The Commission found that no access to official information during the time of the crisis was available which, made working in such an environment even more difficult for the media. The Commission was unanimously of the opinion that the electronic media in general and Aaj TV in particular played an important and commendable role in telecasting live a developing story.

The Executive Committee appreciated the commendable job done by the Convenor and members of the Commission and thanked them for sparing their time for the inquiry on a very short notice. The Executive Committee decided to release the report of the Commission to the press for awareness of the public.

The Executive Committee was informed that the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has revisited their earlier notification and accepted the APNS demand to set aside the notification on centralisation of advertisement and allocate a separate quota for Metro B publications. The Committee also discussed the letter of Ministry of Information on nomination of members for the Press Council of Pakistan and decided to form a committee under the President, APNS to decide the matter in consultation with the CPNE. However, the Committee noted that the formation of the Press Council was a package deal subject to completion of agenda on Press Laws.

The Federal Minister, Muhammad Ali Durrani, Secretary Information, Syed Anwar Mahmood, Principal Information Officer, Chaudhry Rasheed Ahmed and other officials of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting joined the Executive Committee at its meeting and discussed the pending matters relating to Govt-Press relations.

THE MEETING OF THE EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE WAS ATTENDED BY THE FOLLOWING:

Hameed Haroon, President APNS, Jamil Ather, Sr. Vice President, Imtinan Shahid, Vice President, Muhammad Aslam Kazi, Secretary General, Syed Sarmad Ali, Joint Secretary, Umer Mujeeb Shami, Finance Secretary, Mumtaz A. Tahir (Daily Aftab), Mehtab Khan (Daily Ausaf), Waseem Ahmed (Daily Awam, Quetta), Dr Jabber Khattak (Daily Awami Awaz), Rehmat Ali Raazi (W/AZM), Arshad A Zuberi (D/Business Recorder), Abdul Rashid Ghazi (D/Business Report), Siddiq Baloch (D/Balochistan Express), Syed Faseih Iqbal (D/Balochistan Times), Najamuddin Sheikh (D/Deyanat), Kazi Asad Abid (D/Ibrat), Sharif Farooq (Daily Jihad), Javed Mehr Shamsi (D/Kaleem), Aamir Mahmood (M/Kiran), Syed Sajjad Bokhari (D/Musawat), Arif Nizami (D/Nawa-i-Waqt/The Nation), Munir Jillani (D/Peigham), Ilyas Shakir (D/Qaumi Akhbar), Khushnood Ali Khan (D/Sahafat), Khalid Mahmood Shah (M/Shahrag-e-Pakistan), Adnan Malik (W/Takbeer), Altaf Hasan Qureshi (M/Urdu Digest) and Pir Sufaid Shah Hamdard (D/Wahdat), Mujeeb-ur-Rahman Shami, Masood Hamid, Ghulam Nabi Chandio and Mukhtar Aqil attended on special invitation.-
Source: Business Recorder
Date:5/26/2007