Journalist bodies seek probe into raid
LAHORE- The Council of Pakistan Newspaper Editors (CPNE) has condemned the surprise inspection of the offices of the Dawn Group of Newspapers by an army monitoring team accompanied by KESC officials without prior notice.
In a letter addressed to CPNE President, the Dawn management has explained in detail the raid conducted. In a statement by CPNE President, Arif Nizami expressed the hope that this was an isolated incident and added that an impartial enquiry was needed to find out why the Dawn management was being subjected to such an unusual procedure.
He reminded the government that the Chief Executive had in Lahore assured a gathering of newspaper editors that he was committed to the freedom of the Press, and that coverage of his remarks in New York had merely been the result of an attempt to make an issue of a non-issue. He said that newspapers were not above the law, but there were norms to be observed and legal procedures followed which does not appear to have been observed in this case.
The CPNE president has demanded of the government to conduct an inquiry and take immediate action against those who ordered the operation.
The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) expressed grave concern over the army raid on Dawn Karachi offices, and warned the authorities against any designs to trifle with the freedom of the media. In a statement, signed by its chairman Afrasiab Khattak and Secretary-General Hina Jilani, the HRCP said the checking of electrical installation and meters was a routine matter which should not involve in any way the harassment of individuals or threat to cut off power supply to all the newspaper publications.
The inspection team’s disregard of Dawn offices security arrangements smacked of unconscionable high-handedness. The action came at a time when there were renewed rumours of restrictions on the press. It was ominous too in that it followed, what a spokesman for Dawn said, earlier warning to the group, the statement said.
It said these, in particular, concerned a strong government protest with respect to the writings of a Dawn journalist and legal notices from the establishment. The HRCP said that attacks on the freedom of the media would aggravate the national crisis and make the transition to democratic rule uncertain and more difficult.
The Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) also condemned the raid on Dawn newspapers’ premises, The PFUJ President I H Raashed in a statement said that the manner in which the team had raided the newspaper’s office without serving prior notice for checking the electrical installations and thus interrupting the newspaper working for many hours was highly objectionable and shocked the entire community of journalists and newspaper employees of the country.