People advised to cut cables, not to pay bills
Suspension of Geo transmission
LAHORE: The Council of Pakistan Press Clubs Central Convener Arshad Ansari on Sunday said the right to information was a basic right of the people; therefore, they should stop paying bills and disconnect the connections of cable operators who were blacking out the Geo Network illegally.
In a statement, Ansari said the cable operators should avoid taking the law into their own hands and stop usurping the right of the people and allow them to watch what they wanted on their TV screens.
Ansari termed the closure of Geo by cable operators illegal as the matter was under trial. He added that they would go to any extent to uphold media freedom and protect journalists.Ansari said he would soon evolve a strategy for launching a countrywide protest through the press clubs.
Meanwhile, the protests against the attack on senior anchorperson Hamid Mir and the illegal suspension of Geo Network across the country continued on Sunday. Members of civil society, journalists, labourers’ representatives and political activists participated in the demonstrations held in different cities including Lahore, Multan, Rawalpindi, Gujrat, Sarai Alamgir, Layyah, Makhdoompur, Chashma etc.
The protesters demanded immediate restoration of Geo’s transmission, saying the TV channel was the voice of the people and could not be separated from them. They also expressed their surprise that over a month and half had passed since Hamid Mir was attacked in Karachi but the culprits were still at large.
They also condemned the burning of a van of the Jang Group carrying newspapers for distribution in front of the PTV building and said such cowardly acts would not stop the workers of the country’s largest media house from performing their duties independently.
The prominent people who attended the Lahore protest included senior journalists Khawar Naeem Hashmi, Maqsood Butt, Sadia Sharif, Ameen Hafiz, Jang Workers Union President Rukhsana Nazli and General-Secretary Waseem Babar, Fakhira Tehreem, Shahida Jabeen of the PPP, Punjab Assembly Press Gallery ex-president Babar Dogar, Meeran Karim, Shahid Aslam, Imdad Qureshi, PFUJ Senior Vice-President Ijaz Mirza, Zahid Rafique Bhatti, Sabir Awan, Zahid Ali Khan, Ijaz Manzoor, Ijaz Mirza, Farooq Chohan, Naseer Baig, Azhar Maqbool, Sadia Aziz, Huma Mir Hassan, Naveed Aslam, Civil Society Network President Abdullah Malik, Sohail Butt, Munir Khokhar, Adil Khokhar, Shafqat Imran, Asim Naseer, Waheed Butt and Adnan Malik.
Ijaz Mirza said it was strange that a person like Mubasher Lucman was spitting venom on a TV channel against the Geo/ Jang Group, independent judiciary and democracy. Such so-called anchors did not know even the basics of journalism, he remarked.
“Can anybody think of a journalist in Pakistan possessing an airplane,” he asked making an indirect reference to Lucman. According to Ijaz, the clerics giving sermons against the Geo/Jang Group should feel pity on the nation as extremism has already reached an alarming level.
Maqsood Butt said some so-called anchors had set the stage to malign the independent judiciary, media and democracy to please the angels. He said through a malicious campaign against the respected judges of the superior courts, the puppet anchors wanted court decisions of their own choice.
He said the cable operators across the country were being threatened by some powerful quarters to shut down Geo, which was unacceptable to the journalists.
In his address, Babar Dogar said the Geo/Jang Group was shot at on April 19 in Karachi and the same had become the target of every ‘gun’ (channel) only for demanding justice and immediate arrest of the culprits.
“We are being penalised only for raising our voice for justice,” he said, adding the federal and Punjab governments should take strict notice of cable operators as they were illegally shutting down the Geo transmission and shifting its position to the last numbers across the country.
Abdullah Malik said the Geo/Jang Group workers had rendered great sacrifices for Pakistan, democracy and the independence of the media and they were again fighting for media freedom.
He said the whole nation stood united with Hamid Mir and the Geo/Jang Group at the current critical juncture as powerful forces wanted to curb the country’s largest media house. He demanded immediate restoration of Geo’s transmission and arrest of the culprits who attacked Hamid Mir.
Babar Waseem said the Jang Group was not a property of one single person rather over 50, 000 workers and employees of the group owned it and they would defend it against all odds. He said ‘rented anchors’ were hurling abuses at the group only for material gains, but they would foil every such move.
Shahida Jabeen also paid rich tributes to journalists and workers of the Geo/Jang Group, saying they were the real heroes who had paid a heavy price for media freedom and restoration of democracy in the country.