Journalists stage walk out from NA -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Journalists stage walk out from NA

ISLAMABAD, March 19: Mediapersons on Wednesday were twice dragged into protest walkouts from the National Assembly soon after the election of the new speaker on the call of a couple of private television channel representatives who complained that police had cut off their network cables and beat media persons outside the parliament house.

It put the coalition treasury members in embarrassing situation who reached the press room without wasting a minute and started damage control efforts.

PPP chief whip Khurshid Shah, Sherry Rehman, PML-N’s Khwaja Asif and Ayaz Amir along with other treasury members rushed to the press room and convinced the protesting journalists to return to the house, assuring them that action would be taken against those who had maltreated the mediapersons.

The journalists ended their brief boycott and returned to house. Khurshid Shah informed the house that action had been initiated against the officials who had maltreated some news and cameramen.

However, police rejected the blame that anyone was manhandled and said a couple of private television cameramen in defiance of a ban imposed on their entry into the parliament house had entered the house without permission.

Minutes later, another channel representative came in and asked the journalists to come out in protest as their channel cables were still cut off.

The mediapersons were again forced to walk out though everyone questioned each others as to whether there was really a reason for a walkout on whimsical calls by certain television channels. The issue was later resolved when newly-elected Speaker Dr Fehmida Mirza ordered restoration of the cable links of the TV channels.

Sherry Rahman termed the police action a conspiracy against the new speaker, while Ayaz Amir of the PML-N said the action was the result of some misunderstanding which should not be repeated.

Khwaja Asif of the PML-N supported the idea of allowing private channels along with the official media to cover the parliamentary proceedings.

The members of press gallery demanded formation of a committee comprising electronic and print media representatives which should hold talks with authorities on the collective issues facing the media.

Independent observers said it would be a major task for the new government to tackle such a large number of private television channels inside the house.
Source: Dawn
Date:3/20/2008