Minister assailed for assault on newoman
By Raja Asghar
ISLAMABAD, Sept 14: Members form both the ruling and opposition parties denounced Labour Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan in parliament on Thursday for allegedly ordering an overnight assault on a journalist by his security guards. In their speeches, they also called for a parliamentary probe after journalists boycotted the day’s proceedings of both the National Assembly and the Senate to protest against the attack on a former Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) secretary-general, C.R. Shamsi, in parliament’s premises at the end of Wednesday’s lower house sitting. Information and Broadcasting Minister Mohammad Ali Durrani offered ‘unqualified apologies’ for the incident and assured the National Assembly the government would ensure impartial legal proceedings after journalists complained that a police station in Islamabad had received Mr Shamsi’s written complaint but refused to register an FIR against the Labour minister. The Labour minister admitted in the assembly he had a ‘brief exchange of words’ with the journalist about the latest wage board award for the newspaper industry before driving off to his home but said he did not know who carried out the attack afterwards. Mr Shamsi said in his report to police one of Mr Khan’s three guards beat him black and blue on the face, damaging an ear-drum, after the minister told them to teach him a lesson, and the guards also injured a visitor from Lahore who tried to rescue the journalist. The Labour minister said he was in a hurry to drive home and embraced Mr Shamsi who came to him to complain about the non-implementation of the wage board award, but accused the journalist of using a ‘bitter tone of conversation’ and showing an ‘aggressive attitude’.“We drove away, and if anybody gave him a slap on the face for his rude behaviour with me, I am sorry for it,” the minister said.Mr Durrani, who later came to meet the protesting journalists in the parliament press lounge, also assured them that the government would ‘take measures’ for an ‘early’ implementation of the Seventh Wage Board Award and payment of salaries by defaulting news rganisations. Opposition members in the National Assembly — MMA’s Liaqat Baloch and Hafiz Hussain Ahmed, PPP’s Shah Mahmud Qureshi, Ms Sherry Rehman and Chaudhry Manzoor Ahmed, and PML-N’s Tehmina Daultana – blamed the labour minister for the incident and urged Speaker Chaudhry Amir Hussain to order an inquiry by a bi-partisan committee of the house. MQM member Abdul Wasim said the incident had sent a wrong message to people while Ms Gul-e-Farkhanda of the ruling PML accused the minister of demonstrating a ‘feudal behaviour’ before she staged a token protest walkout.
IFJ SHOCKED: The International Federation of Journalist issued a statement on Thursday strongly condemning what it called ‘brutal bashing’ of a senior journalist and union leader journalist and union leader after he demanded the implementation of the Seventh Wage Award. “An attack on a journalist union leader is an attack on all journalists,” IFJ president Christopher Warren said.
Source: The News