Government to ensure continuity of press freedom: Federal Minister -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Government to ensure continuity of press freedom: Federal Minister

FAISALABAD- The present government will continue to ensure the freedom of press, freedom of thought and freedom of expression at all costs and the incident in Faisalabad on April 14 is an isolated administrative mistake and it will be judicially dealt with.

This was stated by the Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting, Nisar Memon, while addressing the local journalists at the Faisalabad Press Club.

He had come to express his sympathies personally with the journalists who had sustained injuries in the police baton charge during the referendum public meeting addressed by President General Pervez Musharraf.

Expressing his regrets over the incident, the minister personally apologised on behalf of the government to the journalists and acceded that this incident has done more damage to the government at the international level than the physical injuries inflicted to the journalists.

The minister said that he had to explain many a times the grounds and reasons for its instigation to a panorama of foreign institutions in the United Nations, New York and other countries.

Continuing, the minister said that the Punjab Governor, Khalid Maqbool, has ordered a judicial inquiry into incident and has appointed the Faisalabad district and sessions judge to conduct the Inquiry.

He said that the government would take stringent actions against the Police officers responsible for the baton charge on journalists in case they are proved guilty in the judicial inquiry.

The minister said that President Pervez Musharraf and Punjab governor Khalid Maqbool have already regretted the sad incident, adding that he also apologises on this incident and appeals to local journalist community to end their protest and wait for the inquiry report.

Memon said that the journalists, especially those who sustained injuries, should appear before the inquiry judge and record their statements there.

Continuing his speech, the minister said that credit goes to President Pervez Musharraf for putting the country on the path of democracy.

He said that after the elections of the local council members, the government has introduced the much-needed local government system in the country and the elected representatives are running the system most effectively.

He further said that the present government is sincere in restoring the democratic set-up in the country and is holding general elections in October as directed by the Supreme Court.

He further said that the restoration of democracy in Pakistan was essential to consolidate the country and maintain law and order and implement far reaching reforms by the elected people.

Reverting to Police excesses on Journalists in Faisalabad, the minister categorically announced that no instruction was issued to the local police for baton charge on journalists nor they were directed to “fix the journalists”.

It was indeed an administrative fault and the government would take appropriate action against the police officers in case they are held responsible in the judicial inquiry, he added.

Earlier, addressing the meeting, Shams-ul-Islam Naz, Mian Rifaat Qadri, Agha Arbab Khawar, Ashfaq Jahangir Hashmi, Rashid Tahir and Jawed Siddiqui condemned the police baton charge over journalists and demanded immediate suspension of District Superintendent Police (DSP) Arshad Dogar and other high police officers responsible of this incident.

They vowed that the journalists of Faisalabad would continue their protestation till the acceptance of their demands.

On the occasion, the minister announced a donation of Rs 100,000 for the Faisalabad Press Club.

Later, he inaugurated the Swift Registration Centre of the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) on Liaquat Road, where live data entry in the computer on the present forms will be made within 15 minuets.

The scanning of signatures and thumb impression of the applicant and the arrangement for photographs and facility for preparation for urgent Identity Card will be available.

The centre will ensure the dispatch of new computerised ID cards within four to six weeks.
Source: Business Recorder
Date:4/20/2002