Journalists, activists hold rally against media curbs
ISLAMABAD, Feb 23: Hundreds of journalists and members of civil society gathered at a protest demonstration here on Saturday and demanded of President Musharraf to step down immediately after his rejection by the people.
They held separate protests which later merged in front of the Press Club where journalists and civil society representatives made fiery speeches against President Musharraf and Pemra curbs on media. They demanded free media, independent judiciary and policies free from foreign pressure.
The journalist community mainly protested against media restrictions whereas the civil society representatives demanded restoration of pre-November 3 judiciary, free media and removal of President Musharraf. They said that after the rejection of the president’s allies in the Feb 18 vote, there was no justification for President Musharraf to stay in power.
“He should go with honour or the people will force him to step down,” former bureaucrat Roedad Khan summed up the participants’ feelings while talking to reporters.
The speakers also targeted the US for its “interference in Pakistans politics” and support for President Musharraf. The protesters held aloft banners and placards carrying slogans against the US and President Musharraf and in favour of the judiciary.
“American interference in Pakistani politics is unacceptable,” read a placard.
Journalists protested against media curbs imposed by Pemra and demanded removal of these curbs. Speaking on the occasion, Mr Talat Hussain, Mr Mazhar Abbas, Mr Afzal Butt and others described media restrictions as black laws.
They demanded immediate lifting of these curbs. Mr Hussain made specific mention of the ban on ‘Bolta Pakistan programme of the Aaj TV and said the show would go on air whether Pemra allowed or censored it.