Manhandling of media men by protesters, police widely condemned
ISLAMABAD: Terming the mob attack on the Parliament House and the Prime Minister House a dark chapter in the history of democracy, journalists and the civil society organisations on Sunday maintained that the people have seen the real face of Imran Khan and Dr. Tahriul Qadri who are bent upon derailing the democratic process to pursue the hidden agenda of their mentors.
Addressing the participants of the “Pro-democracy” camp set up in front of the National Press Club (NPC), they said both Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan and Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) chief Dr. Tahirul Qadri repeatedly said that their workers would observe sanctity of the government buildings in the Red Zone but all their pledges were just an eyewash and their real motive was to occupy the Parliament House and the Prime Minister House to derail democracy in Pakistan.
They also strongly condemned the attack on the offices of Geo News by the workers of PTI and torture of media persons during the clashes between the protesters and policemen in front of the Parliament House.
The camp has been set up by Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) in coordination with the Rawalpindi Islamabad Union of Journalists (RIUJ) and civil society organizations where various poets recite their poems and singers sing songs in favour of democracy for which the people of Pakistan have rendered innumerable sacrifices.
Speaking on the occasion, NPC President Shahrayar Khan said the political parties and the police brutally tortured journalists who were covering the sit-ins so they would lodge cases against all those persons allegedly involved in this brutal act that earned a bad name for Pakistan at the international level.
“The journalists face torture and hardships at the hands of the political forces and the government as well but still they want a strong and vibrant democratic system in Pakistan. Our struggle only aims at strengthening democracy in Pakistan and we have nothing to do with the political parties or the incumbent governments. We want all segments of the society to play their due role to protect democracy in the face of potential threats,” he said.
RIUJ President Ali Raza Alvi said freedom of expression is necessary in any civilized society but when a dictator rules the country then no one is allowed to raise voice for the rights of the people and that is why the journalists’ community is highlighting the importance of strengthening democracy for a peaceful, strong and prosperous Pakistan.
RIUJ Secretary General Bilal Dar said he pointed out at the very early stage that if marchers were allowed to enter Red Zone then it would ultimately pave the way for violence and now the nation has witnessed the tragic episode in which three people have been killed and some 300 injured during clashes between the protesters and the policemen.
“Senior politician Javed Hashmi also said that he warned Imran Khan against moving ahead as it could lead towards violence. So it was quite obvious that movement of the protesters in Red Zone area could create law and order situation in the capital city,” he said.
Khalid Aftab Sulehri of Pakistan Insani Haqooq Party said democracy is the only political system that can guarantee a strong and democratic Pakistan otherwise the people have witnessed that the dictatorship always increased problems and failed to bring progress and prosperity in the country.Prominent artist Jamal Shah said the politicians have lost their patience and want to grab power at any cost.
Our correspondents add from Lahore, other cities: Journalist associations including Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) and Lahore Press Club, lawyers and political parties representatives staged a demonstration on Sunday outside the Punjab Assembly.
Protesters raising slogans against Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif government walked from Punjab Assembly building to Chief Minister Secretariat in protest over police baton-charge of media men in Islamabad.
Addressing the participants, Lahore Press Club President and convener of Council of Pakistan Press Clubs Arshad Ansari said the baton-charge of journalists is an unprecedented example of state sponsored terrorism in Pakistan’s history.
Ansari said all journalists in the country would observe a ‘black day’ against the deplorable situation of media persons in Islamabad and a rally would be taken out all over Pakistan. Ansari said a case would be registered against Interior Minister Ch Nisar Ali and other ministers and IGP Islamabad for attacks on journalists by the police.
Representing the PFUJ, Rana Azeem said the journalist community would not rest until a case is registered against Information Minister Pervaiz Rashid and Ch Nisar Ali for this heinous act.Meanwhile civil rights activists have condemned the baton-charge and attack on Geo TV office in Islamabad by anti-government protesters belonging to PAT and PTI.
Head of the Institute of Secular Peace Studies Diep Syeda told The News that any attack on freedom of the press in Pakistan is unacceptable and should be immediately redressed. Syeda said attack on Geo TV is condemnable and that the media outlet is being attacked for its unwillingness to be swayed by the long marches being led by Imran Khan and Dr Tahirul Qadri.
Awami Workers Party (AWP) Secretary General Farooq Tariq told The News that the police for assaulting media persons were also acting on the whims of covert actors, desiring rule of martial law in Pakistan. The AWP leader expressed solidarity with Geo TV and its staff.
AWP President Abid Hasan Minto, Chairman Fanoos Gujjar and Secretary General Farooq Tariq emphasized bankruptcy of Imran and Qadri, who are holding the country hostage to their narrow agenda.
South Asia Free Media Association (SAFMA) Secretary General Imtiaz Alam, talking to The News, said various quarters and political parties had grown to be intolerant of the media and its role in providing information to viewers. He condemned attack on GEO TV office in Islamabad and said regardless of differences in political views, the freedom of press should be respected.
Talking to The News, Justice (R) Nasira Iqbal condemned the baton-charge of media personnel and attack on Geo TV office. The former Lahore High Court judge said the media was fulfilling its responsibilities to report and was not participating in the protest to provoke police action.
Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has expressed sorrow over the violence of police. He said an impartial inquiry of the incident should be conducted and action be taken against the persons responsible. He also prayed for early recovery of the injured media men.Reports from our correspondents in major cities across the province have also given accounts of protests and demonstrations against the attack on Geo TV and media men in Islamabad.
OKARA: The general body meeting of the Okara Press Club condemned police action against reporters in Islamabad. The body demanded of the government to take legal action against the responsible. JI leader Liaqat Ali Kausar, PML-N leader Manzoor Sipra and others also condemned the police action against media men.
BAHAWALPUR: Members of Bahawalpur Union of Journalists on Sunday staged a demonstration against the police action. The demo was led by Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) vice-president Ameen Abbasi and BhUJ President Majeed Gill. Journalists raised slogans against police and the accused that attacked Geo News office demanding their arrest.
JARANWALA: A large number of journalists staged a protest rally in the city against police action against the media. The journalists, who wore black armbands, started the rally from Exchange Chowk and ended at Cinema Chowk after marching through bazaars and raising slogans against government and the police.
MUZAFFARGARH: Journalists across the district condemned police action against the media men in Islamabad. Similarly, protest demonstrations were held in Alipur, Jatoi and Kot Addu against the anti-media police action.
NANKANA: Police torture on media in Islamabad was condemned at a meeting of the Press Club chaired by its President Ch Afzal Haq on Sunday. Journalists wearing black armbands protested outside the press club.
TOBA TEK SINGH: The Press Club members staged a protest demonstration and condemned the police action against media men in Islamabad.
PPP Patron-in-Chief Bilawal Bhutto Zardari also condemned attacks on reporters of TV channels by the protesters and police during Islamabad riots since last night. In a press statement, he said brutal manhandling of reporters by the rioters and the police are condemnable.
Pakistan Journalists Association UK (PJA) also expressed deep concern over the threatening behaviour and physical attack, torture on the journalists/Camera persons of different TV channels, made by the marchers of PTI/PAT & also by Police in Islamabad on Saturday evening while they where performing in the line of there professional journalistic duty.
The PJA also strongly condemns attack & vandalism on GEO TV Islamabad office and threats to its staffers from the workers of PAT and PTI.
In a statement the PJA expressed full support to Pakistani Journalists, offered solidarity with them and demanded an immediate action from Interior Minister Ch Nisar Ali Khan so that perpetrators may be brought to justice and protection for Pakistani journalists who are highlighting just the ground realities in the most difficult circumstances.