Attack on Express offices: Journalists boycott Senate proceedings, stage protest
ISLAMABAD: Journalists staged a walkout on Tuesday from parliament’s press gallery against the previous day’s gun and bomb attack on the Express Media Group’s offices in Karachi.
The protesting journalists demanded that the government ensure the protection of media personnel and bring the culprits to book. The Express Media Group’s offices in Karachi have been attacked twice in the past four months.
Later, journalists led by leaders of Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ), politicians and civil society activists blocked Constitution Avenue in front of Parliament House to show solidarity with Express Media Group employees.
Information Minister Pervaiz Rashid, Awami National Party (ANP) Senators Zahid Khan and Shahi Sayed and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Senator Maula Bux Chandio visited the protesting journalists and asked them to end their boycott of the house’s proceedings. Later, they stood shoulder to shoulder with the media persons at the demonstration.
Rashid condemned Monday’s attack and said the federal government would fully support the provincial authorities in arresting the culprits and bringing them to justice.
“It is the responsibility of the state to protect people and we are working on enacting strict laws to prevent such terror acts,” he added.
Earlier, the Senate strongly condemned “the act of terror” and Senate Chairman Nayyar Hussain Bokhari asked the government to ensure the safety and security of all media houses and workers. Senator Aitzaz Ahsan of the PPP condemned the incident and said the government should take all steps to ensure the safety of journalists.
“This act could have been averted had the government taken timely action when the group was attacked earlier.”
Rashid said the government and media were on the same page against terrorism and extremism. “We are united against terrorism and the government’s stance is clear that there is no room for terrorists,” said the minister.
“The media is the fourth pillar of the state and is as important as all the other pillars,” he said. The minister said the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz government is serious about tackling terrorism, which is why it presented three laws in the Senate on Tuesday aimed at further tightening the noose around terrorists.
“We will not leave any stone unturned to make the country peaceful and terror free,” he said.
Senator Zahid Khan of the ANP condemned the attack and said the government had failed to provide protection to the media. He also said it was a shame that both attacks were conducted from the same location. He said terrorists frequently target liberal political forces and media persons when they criticise extremists.
PFUJ President Afzal Butt said it was not simply a warning from the terrorists but a sophisticated and systematic attack on a large media house where a tragedy was narrowly averted. “The government has not done its job”, he said. He warned that if the culprits were not arrested within 72 hours, the PFUJ would continue its protest across the country.