Newsman’s whereabouts still unknown
By Our Staff Reporter
KARACHI, Sept 22: The whereabouts of Saeed Sarbazi, a journalist missing since Wednesday, are still not known and his family has expressed fear for his safety. His brother, Saleem Sarbazi, told Dawn on Friday that the family was concerned about the whereabouts of Saeed and that their widowed mother and Saeed’s wife have now started losing their composure and patience. He said the old mother wanted to know why her son had been picked up and how and where he might be at the moment. The two brothers live in a house in Risala Compound and keep a joint family. “We are now really concerned about his well-being,” Saleem said, adding that “Saeed’s wife is exercising utmost patience as she has to soothe three small daughters, who have been waiting for their father to return home. But how long could she stop herself from crying?”
Saeed’s children constantly ask about the absence of their papa and the other family members keep telling them that he has gone somewhere for some official work and will be returning soon, according to Mr Saleem. Meanwhile, police refused to lodge an FIR about kidnapping of Mr Sarbazi. Sindh Home Minister Rauf Siddiqui said police had not picked up Mr Sarbazi and efforts were, however, under way by the provincial government to locate him. Mr Siddiqui said he had directed police to lodge an FIR as demanded by Sarbazi’s family. PROTEST: A protest meeting of various journalists organisations at the Karachi Press Club on Friday evening decided to launch a joint movement till all missing newsmen, including those detained by agencies, were recovered or produced before a court of law.
The protesting journalists gave 12-hour ultimatum to the federal and provincial governments for the safe recovery of Mr Sarbazi failing which they vowed to organise rallies and sits-in at the CM’s House and the Crops headquarters. Addressing the meeting, KPC President Ghazi Salahuddin observed that Mr Sarbazi’s disappearance had not merely created serious concern and unrest among the journalist community, but also raised questions about the government’s claims regarding freedom of the press. Referring to the increasing incidents of such kind in the country and the government’s indifferent attitude towards journalists’ grievances, he observed that Gen Pervez Musharraf’s government appeared less willing to heed the complaints of violence and excesses against journalists as compared even to Ziaul Haq’s regime. The KPC chief deplored that the incumbent regime had badly damaged the roots of civil society in the country.
PFUJ Secretary General Mazhar Abbas said that during the past six months, three journalists had been killed and many others taken into custody by various intelligence agencies. “These are calculated attempts by the military regime to gag the press and curb the freedom of speech,” he added. Criticising the Sindh home minister, he said the minister should step down if he did not know about the agency that had picked-up Mr Sarbazi and was keeping him in illegal detention. “If Sarbazi were a Denial Pearl, a Jew, an American or a Briton, the entire state machinery would have been mobilised to recover him,” he lamented. He said that Mr Sarbazi’s fault was that he belonged to the Baloch community, he was a Muslim and a Pakistani. Mr Abbas demanded that if he was wanted in any case, his arrest be shown immediately and he be tried in an open court.
KPC Secretary Najeeb Ahmad, KUJ President Ayub Jan Sarhandi, Vice-President Khursheed Abbasi, Yusuf Khan and Arbab Chandio also spoke. Later, participants of the meeting marched up to the Governor’s House carrying banners and placards inscribed with slogans against the government and in support of their demands. Chanting slogans against the federal and the provincial governments, the protesters also staged a sit-in in front of the Governor’s House where senior journalists addressed them. They said that Gen Musharraf had imposed a virtual martial law in the country in the name of democracy. They pledged to continue their struggle until the safe recovery of Mr Sarbazi, Maharuddin Marri and other missing journalists. SINDH ASSEMBLY: Journalists covering the Sindh Assembly proceedings continued their boycott of the house proceedings on Friday in protest against the disappearance of Saeed Sarbazi.
The journalists covering the proceedings remained in the press room of the assembly building since the start of the session. MPA Rafique Engineer of PPP visited the press room and requested the journalists to cover the session, arguing that their boycott was only benefiting the treasury benches. However, the journalists maintained that they were concerned about safety of their colleague more than anything else, and they would continue the boycott until he was freed. Sindh Home Minister Rauf Siddiqui, along with Adviser Salahuddin Haider and Muttahida MPA Abdul Quddus, also visited the press room and requested journalists to end their boycott, but in vain.