Governor’s behaviour stuns CPNE
LAHORE- The Council of Pakistan Newspaper Editors (CPNE) has roundly condemned the unwarranted assault on journalists by the Punjab police at the venue of President Pervez Musharraf’s referendum speech in Faisalabad in which 23 journalists were injured, three of them seriously.
Local members of the council, at an emergency meeting presided over by its president Mujibur Rehman Shami, reviewed the situation dispassionately.
They noted that the incident arose after a speech by Punjab Governor Khalid Maqbool, in which he accused “newspapermen of public contempt by publishing fake reports about the attendance” at Gen Musharraf’s public rally at the Minar-i-Pakistan some days ago. “They were playing with the sentiments of the public”, the governor shouted, and warned “they should know that the public could take revenge on them if they don’t desist from wrong reporting”.
In a statement, the CPNE said that this amounted to inciting the public to violence against the press. The CPNE also took strong exception to Governor Maqbool’s “appeal to the audience to join him and raise slogans of ‘shame, shame’ to denounce misreporting and irresponsible attitude of the media”.
The CPNE said it was shocked to learn that Governor Maqbool had threatened that “if the newspaperwallas did not behave, the public would take them to task”. It was Governor Maqbool’s speech that provoked journalists at the venue to walk out and protest their indignation outside the gate to the rally. The police then launched a brutal baton-charge, injuring many journalists.
“The CPNE is stunned by the behaviour of Governor Khalid Maqbool which led to an ugly situation and seriously undermined the government’s oft-made claim that the press is free to voice its opinion without fear or favour.
“The council also noted the irony of the situation in which the federal government has tasked Governor Maqbool to determine and fix responsibility for the incident.
“The CPNE unanimously felt that this was an attack on the press by the government which provoked a boycott by journalists present at the rally and later led to a brutal assault by the police on them.”
The council demanded that the government should refrain from such violent instigations against the press and uphold its rights and freedom. The CPNE advised governor Maqbool to remain within the bounds of propriety and refrain from behaviour unbecoming his caretaker office. It also demanded that an inquiry into the incident should be held by no less than a sitting high court judge to determine and fix responsibility for the unfortunate turn of events and make the findings public. It also expressed its deep sympathies for the injured journalists and vowed to stand by them.
Mujibur Rehman Shami (Pakistan), Zia Shahid (Khabrain), Najam Sethi (Time), Irshad Haqqani (Jang), Sajjad Bokhari (Musawaat), Shaheen Qureshi (Jang group), Umer Shami (Yalghar), M.A Niazi (The Nation), Irshad A. Arif (Nawa-i-Waqt), Adeeb Jawadani (Moon Digest) attended the emergent.