Musharraf's and Memon's statement: Opp, journalists stage walkouts in Senate -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Musharraf’s and Memon’s statement: Opp, journalists stage walkouts in Senate

ISLAMABAD: Members of the opposition and journalists staged two walkouts from the Senate session on Monday to protest President Pervez Musharraf’s remarks against a senior journalist in London and the reported statement of Caretaker Information Minister Nisar A Memon threatening that television channels could face a November 3-like situation.

Soon after the start of proceedings, journalists walked out of the press gallery in protest against the president’s remarks against senior journalist M Ziauddin.

Musharraf in an address in London had promptly accused Ziauddin of “casting aspersions” and “undermining our forces and your own country”. Musharraf had asked overseas Pakistanis to “put one, two or three punches” to Pakistani journalists who were destroying the country’s image outside the country.

They also protested against Memon’s statement that the media could face a situation much like that on November 3, if it violated the code of conduct. Opposition senators also staged a token walkout to express solidarity with the journalists. Opposition leader in the Senate, Raza Rabbani, said, “President Musharraf’s remarks and those of his caretaker minister are deplorable”. Besides threatening reporters, the government has also illegally detained lawyers, including Supreme Court Bar Association President Aitzaz Ahsan and Justice (r) Tariq Mehmood, he added.

Rabbani criticised Memon for issuing an irresponsible statement against print and electronic media. Other opposition members condemned the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulation Authority (PEMRA) Ordinance and demanded its immediate withdrawal. Meanwhile, Caretaker Minister for Inter-Provincial Coordination Dr Muhammad Amjad and Population Welfare Minister Abdul Jalil Khan came out to the press lounge to bring back the protesting journalists to the gallery.

The journalists apprised the ministers of the ongoing curbs on media and the non-implementation of the 7th Wage Board Award. Amjad assured them that he would convey their concerns to President Musharraf. Upon his assurance, the journalists returned to the gallery to cover the proceedings.

However, the journalists and oppositions members again staged a walkout when the caretaker information minister took to the floor to clarify his earlier statement, saying that the government believed in press freedom.

Security barricades: Separately, opposition senators protested against the security cordons around Parliament House.

Pakistan People’s Party Senator Enver Baig said parliamentarians coming to attend the Senate session were facing difficulties due to the security barricades. He said a heavy contingent of police deployed at all entry points leading to Parliament House were also creating problems.

Other opposition senators supported Baig and asked the acting chairman to order the removal of all security barricades around Parliament House so that people could move freely.
Source: Daily Times
Date:2/5/2008