Newsmen walkout from Senate: President's remarks against journalist resented -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Newsmen walkout from Senate: President’s remarks against journalist resented

ISLAMABAD (February 05 2008): The journalists on Monday staged token walkout from Senate twice in protest against President Pervez Musharraf’s use of harsh words for a senior Pakistani journalist Ziauddin on January 25. The first token walkout by the journalists took place during the morning session of the Senate proceedings against the President’s threatening remarks to a senior journalist.

President Musharraf was addressing a gathering of about 800 Pakistanis in Hilton Hotel, Park Lane, London on January 25 when a senior Pakistani journalist Ziauddin asked a question about Rashid Rauf, a high profile convict who escaped right from under the nose of law-enforcement agencies. On this, the President reportedly replied that “people like you want to destroy the country for their own vested interests.”

For the last eight years, the journalists have been victimised of cruel and selfish behaviour of the government. Also, during the various protests against the brutalities and atrocities of the governmental authorities, 24 journalists have died and 80 injured so far, they said.

“The major responsibility of police is to provide security to the masses, but unfortunately, here in our country, police is playing a major role in victimising the masses, especially the journalists of violence”, the journalists said.

They demanded of President Musharraf to apologise for his “misbehaviour” to the senior journalist. The journalists pointed out the caretaker Federal Information Minister Nisar A. Memon had said in his statement on Sunday that the “journalists will have to stay in limits, otherwise the government might impose the same obligations and restrictions on media that were imposed on November 3, 2007” when it imposed state of emergency in the country.

The caretaker Federal Minister for Inter-Provincial Relations, Dr Amjad, while addressing the journalists’ community in press gallery said: “I have been with the President for a long time and I personally feel that he cannot pass such insulting comments or threat anyone.

“If there is something like it then it may be misunderstanding,” he added. Talking about the suspension of various current affairs programmes on private television channels, he said that slowly and gradually those programmes would be on air. “We request the hosts of these programmes to use soft language and remain polite”, he added.

Answering a question regarding the harsh comments of the Federal Minister for Information, he said that actually he was not threatening the journalists, but was just expressing fears that if media would continue the same negative attitude towards the government, it might give rise to the same situation as on November 3.

The caretaker Federal Minister for Population Welfare Dr A.J.Khan was also present on the occasion. “We always welcome criticism from media because it helps us to learn”, he added. The second token walk out took place when the caretaker Federal Minister for Information said: “We believe in freedom of press and democracy.” Opposition present in the house also walked out, expressing solidarity with the media.

Later, the caretaker Information Minister visited the press gallery, and ensured the journalists that the government would try its best to restore their rights and resolve their issues regarding Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) Ordinance and freedom of press.
Source: Business Recorder