Curbs on press freedom condemned
KARACHI, Feb 23: Speakers at a protest rally on Friday condemned the government for imposing restrictions on a newspaper, Islam, and demanded that freedom of press be ensured and the paper be allowed to be published without undue pressures and restrictions.
They also demanded release of a cameraman of the Al-Jazeera Television Network who was allegedly picked by government agencies from near the Chaman border, in Balochistan, in 2001 and subsequently sent to the Guantanamo Bay detention centre.
The protest rally was organised by the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ). Members of the Karachi Press Club, employees of the newspaper, besides other journalists participated in the rally.
Prominent journalists Abdul Hameed Chhapra, Shamim-ur-Rehman and Mazhar Abbas, and Hafiz Naeem of the affected newspaper addressed the rally, and observed that the government claimed to have believed in press freedom, but such anti-press steps belied the claim.
They noted that no show-cause notice was issued to the publication before it was subjected to curbs although issuance of such notices was a requirement under the relevant laws. They deplored that printing of the main and several other pages of the paper was stopped abruptly on Thursday night when it was about to be printed.
If the government has any problem with the newspaper’s editorial policy, it should have started a dialogue with the newspaper.
The journalists’ leaders said that press would not be cowed down by such actions on the part of the government and journalists, despite all odds and threats, would continue to perform their duties. Later, the protesters marched up to the Governor’s House and staged a sit in.