Outrage over Hyderabad attack on Dawn reporter
HYDERABAD: Political leaders, human rights activists and other members of civil society joined journalists on Friday in expressing shock and anger over the assault on M.H. Khan, the staff correspondent of ‘Dawn’ in Hyderabad, by two activists of the Sindh National Front (SNF) the previous day.
For their part, the journalists vowed that strong-arm tactics would never force them to stop stating facts as they saw them. Politicians and other members of civil society said no leader should resort to violence, no matter how fundamental and deep the differences with a journalist or news organisation.
Prominent among the politicians and civil society members who condemned the attack were Senior Minister of Sindh Pir Mazharul Haq, Health Minister Dr Sagheer Ahmed, Information Minister Shazia Marri, Chairperson of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan Asma Jahangir, Deputy Convener of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement Anees Kaimkhani, chief of the Sindh United Party Syed Jalal Mehmood Shah, chief of the Sindh Taraqqi Pasand Party Dr Qadir Magsi and PML-F leader Nawab Rashid Ali Khan.
Talking to Mr Khan by phone, Asma Jahangir described the attack as an assault on press freedom. She said politicians should learn to behave properly.
If there was a disagreement with a journalist over how an event or statement should be reported, the HRCP chief said, the politicians should use civilised means to get their points of view across instead of resorting to violence. “There is no room for violence in civilised politics.”
Anees Kaimkhani said it was shocking that a professional and proficient journalist like Mr Khan was subjected to physical abuse by some political workers. He urged the authorities to ensure security of all journalists.
JSQM chairman Basheer Khan Qureshi urged Sardar Mumtaz Ali Bhutto to hand over to police his party’s workers who had attacked Mr Khan. He said he took the attack personally, adding: “It was an attack on me, not on Mr Khan.”
Dr Qadir Magsi called Mr Khan to tell him that he would take up the issue with the SNF chief. He added that leaders must learn to “defend themselves politically” instead of resorting to strong-arm tactics.
Jalal Mehmood Shah said it was a reporter’s job to ask questions. Talking to Dawn, he said it was shocking to see an honest reporter working for a newspaper of repute coming under attack in such a brutal fashion.
Dr Arif Alvi, Zameer Ghumro, Aajiz Dhamrah, Ahsan Abro, Awami National Party leader Haji Asmatullah Mehsud and Maulana Taj Mohammed Nahiyoon of the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (Fazl) also assailed the attack.
Representatives of the Hyderabad Chamber of Commerce & Industry and Anjuman-i-Tajiran Hyderabad visited Mr Khan in hospital. Prominent members of the legal community — Allah Bachayo Soomro, Noorul Haq Qureshi and Ayaz Tunio — offered to take the matter to court free of charge.
MNA Nawab Ghani Talpur and District Nazim of Jamshoro Malik Asad Sikandar condemned the attack in separate statements.
In Sanghar, members of the Sindhi Adabi Sangat, district bar association, Citizens Action Committee and National Workers Party condemned the attack.
Mir Mehmood Nizamani of the Hur Historical Society also condemned the attack and said it was aimed at intimidating journalists.