Council of Pakistan Newspaper Editors (CPNE), All Pakistan Newspapers Society (APNS) condemn blast in Nawa-e-Waqt offices -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Council of Pakistan Newspaper Editors (CPNE), All Pakistan Newspapers Society (APNS) condemn blast in Nawa-e-Waqt offices

KARACHI: A joint emergency meeting of the executive committee of the Council of Pakistan Newspaper Editors (CPNE) and the All Pakistan Newspapers Society (APNS), representing the editors and publishers of the print media in the country, strongly condemned the wanton bomb attack on the office of the Nawa-e-Waqt in Karachi. They called for immediate government action to ensure the protection of pressmen and newspapers as also the offices of the newspapers in the country.

The emergent meeting of the APNS/CPNE executives where Arif Nizami and Arshad A. Zuberi together thanked all the attending members for coming to the meeting at short notice, considered the bomb blast incident at the office of the Nawa-e-Waqt, in which one person was killed on the spot and one critically injured, at length and opined that the bomb blast was another violent manifestation of the evil designs of those who wish to silence the freedom of expression and restrict the press freedom in the country.

However, the joint meeting declared that the editors and publishers were collectively resolved to stand up and defend press freedom at all costs in the service of democracy and the right of people to know the truth. The meeting in a unanimous resolution declared the latest bomb blast in the Nawa-e-Waqt office after the burning of the Business Recorder office during a public protest in the city all point to the growing malaise of using violence as an instrument to coerce and silence the press in the country. The meeting declared that all such efforts by the perpetrators of such crime would fail because the editors and publishers were united in their stand to defend the press freedom and reject all forms of threats and coercion.

The meeting also declared that it was imperative to have a joint committee of the CPNE-APNS to meet at short notice for considering such emergencies and laying down a line of action that should obtain the desired results, including the protection of the pressmen and newspapers, better security for newspaper establishments and apprehension of the culprits involved in these deplorable and dastardly attacks on the press. The joint meeting, therefore, decided that a joint steering committee is constituted forthwith to take appropriate action in the matter of such emergencies as created by the bomb blast at the Nawa-e-Waqt office. The joint steering committee of the CPNE-APNS will comprise the office-bearers of the two organisations and will meet at short notice to pursue all such matters that threaten the newspapers editors and publishers and the newspapers offices in the country.

In a general discussion on the situation created by the bomb attack, various members spoke out strongly on the need to pass on a strong and firm message to all the elements, including political parties and groups m the country that the press was united in its resolve to defend press freedom and rejected all forms of threats, violent attacks and pressures. They also deplored the failure of the law enforcing agencies in bringing to book so far the countless people involved in the acts of violence against the newspapers and pressmen.

CPNE President Arif Nizami briefed the meeting on the bomb attack at the Nawa-e-Waqt office and said that various messages, which were covert threats, were being received by the Nawa-e-Waqt since some time. He said the attacks on the newspaper offices were an indication of the dastardly depraved mentality of the perpetrators of such crime. Taking part in the discussion Mahmudul Aziz, member of the CPNE standing committee, said that the attack on the Nawa-e-Waqt office was most deplorable but it formed part of the chain of acts of violence against newspapers in the country since past three and more decades. It goes back to the attack as the Nawa-e-Waqt and the Jang offices in Lahore in 1980 and earlier in 1966 when all the newspaper bodies collectively organised a protest day.

Again in 1900 the CPNE and the APNS in collaboration with other sympathetic organisations observed the Freedom from Pressures and Threats Day for the press in which all the parties and groups sent their representatives and pledged to uphold press freedom and condemn all acts of violence against the press. He suggested the formation of an action committee to pursue all the cases of violence against the press and seek the award of exemplary punishment to all those responsible for such dastardly and deplorable acts. He regretted that since 1980 till today more than 130 cases of violence and threats, including arson and attacks against newspapers had taken place in the country, but almost none of the perpetrators of those crimes were apprehended by the law enforcing agencies and given punishment by the courts of law.

Therefore, it was necessary that the CPNE-APNS should jointly work through a special committee to meet all the governors and Chief Executive General Pervez Musharraf, specially in view of the commitment of the present government to upheld press freedom to take strong action against the Perpetrators of such crimes against the press.

Salim Asmi, editor of the Dawn, said that the attack on the Nawa-e-Waqt was a manifestation of the growing intolerance in our society. The press must warn both the government and the people against all such elements that create intolerance and promote violence in society and in this regard the press should take collective action also.

Qazi Asad Abid opined that a strong protest be registered by the CPNE and the APNS and the matter of apprehension of the culprits be followed in a result-oriented manner.

Mir Javed Rehman recalled that the CPNE-APNS had in the past met to discuss such attacks on the newspapers. However, there was need for a regular body of the two organisations to meet at short notice to pursue the emergencies as at present and set the line of action that would result in defending effectively the freedom of the press and saving the newspaper offices and pressmen from such dastardly attacks.

Arshad Zuberi said that the APNS had always gone along with the CPNE in joint action to defend the press freedom and vehemently condemned all such acts of violence. Arif Nizami informed the meeting that APNS President Mir Shakil-ur-Rehnian had called him on telephone to condemn the bomb, blast at the Nawa-e-Waqt office and assured him of complete solidarity with the newspaper in defending itself against all forms of threats and coercion and attacks.

The meeting declared in the resolution unequivocally that it stands solidly with the Nawa-e-Waqt in rejecting all forms of terror and attacks on the press.

The meeting called for proper action by the authorities, which had so far abjectly failed in providing the required protection to newspaper offices and pressmen to apprehend the culprits of this crime and give them exemplary punishment. The meeting also appealed to all die political parties and groups to honour the commitment to the freedom of the press and the freedom of expression.

The meeting also resolved that the standing committees of the APNS and the CPNE be also called separately soon to consider the line of action that must be adopted in defence of the press freedom and the freedom of expression in the face of the new challenges and acts of violence that the pressmen and newspaper are being subjected to.

The meeting was attended by Arif Nizami (Nawa-e-Waqt, The Nation), Arshad Zuberi (Business Recorder), Ilyas Shakir (Qaumi Akhbar), Saleem Asmi (Dawn), Inqilab Matri (Millat Gujrati), Mir Javed Rahman (Akhbar-e-Jahan), Syed Sarmad Ali (Jang/The News), Osama Bin Razi (Jasarat), Prof. S. B. Hassan (Investment and Marketing), Mahmudul Aziz (UPP), Kazi Asad Abid (Ibrat), Waqar Yousuf Azeemi (Rohani Digest), Sohail Danish (Din) Mohammad Shabir (Khabrain) Qutubuddin (Pakistan), Javed Mehr Shamsi (Kaleem), Mukhtar Aqil (Juraat) Aamir Mahmood (Kiran), Mushtaq Qureshi (Action) and K M Kazim Khan (Din).

Source: Business Recorder

Date:11/7/2000