APNS resents Punjab governor’s remarks
KARACHI- The All Pakistan Newspapers Society (APNS) expressed its resentment, disapproval and anger over the reported remarks of the Punjab governor against the national press.
The publishers’ body has also harshly criticised the physical violence inflicted upon journalists by the Punjab administration and the police. In a statement released to the press, President APNS Hameed Haroon and Secretary-General APNS Kazi Asad Abid categorically declared April 14 as a black day in the history of the Pakistani press.
“The governor of the country’s most populous province has made a shambles of any defence of Article 19 of the Constitution, in which freedom of expression and freedom of press is explicitly included. To further exacerbate our wounds, a shameful assault by the Punjab police, under the orders of the administration injured a large number of journalists, with clear intention to cause such injury,” the APNS said.
“Could this have been the administration’s interpretation under Article 19 of the reasonable restrictions imposed by law on the freedom of press restrictions, which may be invoked in the interest of the glory of Islam or the integrity, security and defence of Pakistan or any part thereof or did the Punjab administration merely believe this to be the suitable way to punish ‘a commission or incitement to an offence’ and thus batter 23 journalists as a consequence of this punishment,” the statement added.
The APNS have been watching the increasing hostility of the federal and provincial governments towards the national press, but the strident abuse contained within the governor’s remarks portend danger ahead for a free press. In violating Article 19 of the Constitution, the Punjab government has trampled with one of the most sacred tenets of the Pakistani state. It behoves little for the Punjab governor at this stage to speak of the very positive and friendly relations with the journalistic community, or of all the possible facilities and cooperation that he would provide to enable journalists to report national happenings in an objective manner in the future as well, APNS office-bearers said.
In the Punjab government press release, the remarks the governor made during his public address may have been tempered as a consequence of the meeting with the delegation of Council of Pakistan Newspaper Editors (CPNE), but in no sense can they have been deemed to have been withdrawn. Under the circumstances a repetition of the events of April 14 is not only possible but indeed likely elsewhere in the country, they apprehended.
The Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) has called for the governor to apologise for this remarks and take action against those responsible for ordering the police assault on the journalists. “We think the PFUJ has got it wrong.
The Punjab governor needs to apologise not simply to the journalists, but to the people of Pakistan for having demonstrated such scant respect for Article 19 of the Constitution of Pakistan. A judicial inquiry may provide some pouring of balm on the injuries of the 23 gentlemen of the press. A more categorical series of actions is required to reverse a growing conviction that the atmosphere of press-government relations has been vitiated, perhaps irreversibly beyond repair,” the APNS statement contended.
Source: The News