Journalists also lose their cool
LAHORE: Journalists also lost their cool in registering their protest against constant media bashing by Punjab Assembly members on Friday.
After boycotting the proceedings as soon as the resolution was passed, they gathered outside the assembly building and raised slogans against “fake degree holders, cheats and liars”.
Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif was the first to suffer their rage when he left the building and ran into protesting journalists. His security paraphernalia had to closely escort him through noisy crowd of journalists.
Zulfiqar Khan Khosa was the next one to taste the journalists’ anger, who was also hounded out of the assembly building amid sloganeering.
The situation turned uglier when Waris Kahloon, an MPA from Khushab, responded in the same coin and some of his colleagues and bodyguards attacked journalists. A brawl followed but the police, whom someone has called in the meanwhile, took control of the situation. At this stage, the Civil Lines SP was called in by the speaker and directed to ensure safety and dignity of the MPAs. The police created a corridor for leaving MPAs and kept them at a safe distance from the protesting journalists.
Later, the journalists’ leaders made speeches outside the assembly building, pledging to continue their struggle for independence of media and protect it from “any kind of intrusion and bad influencesÂ”.
They claimed that it was the fake degree holders who were at the heart of the crisis, not the media reporting about them. As long as these people remained part of the governance and news kept coming about them, they would continue reporting as it was part of their profession.
The leaders tore the resolution apart, saying that no one would recognize this piece of paper that ‘protected cheats and liars’.
Earlier, after the passage of the resolution, it was members’ turn to breathe fire on the media during the house proceedings.
Syed Nazim Husain Shah of the PPP delivered the first salvo when he said he knew how some of the media houses had made money and some individual journalists became rich.
“We are here due to our own vote bank which we earned after years of political struggle, and we also know how to protect ourselves against negative propaganda,” he said amid thunderous applause. He said he was going to sue an English daily for writing an editorial calling MPs ‘cheaters and fakers’. He said he knew how an Urdu daily made money. “We damn care what they write about us. We are here in our own right and will defend ourselves.”
Mr Mastikhel of the PML-N, the mover of the resolution, was equally venomous in his comments when he took the floor. “A section of the media has lost a sense of responsibility and morality. It is working on an agenda which is destabilising the country. This bunch of blackmailers will end up hurting every one if not checked right now.”
Sheikh Allauddin of the PML-Q (forward bloc) was of the opinion that the media was taking the country to a civil war-like situation. “Those criticising us must first clarify their own positions,” he said while claiming to have a list of the media institutions and individuals who have asked him for favours.
Seemal Kamran (Q-League) also stood up to grill the media for insulting her colleagues. “We are not against genuine news but against insulting context in which public representatives are ridiculed.”