Government's failure to recover journalist condemned -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Government’s failure to recover journalist condemned

PESHAWAR (February 03 2007): The civil society organisations staged a protest here on Friday to resent the government’s failure to recover Daily Express Resident Editor Sohail Qalander and his friend Niaz Mohammad who were kidnapped from Peshawar on January 2, 2007.

The demonstration was organised by the Alliance for Protection of Human Rights (APHR), a group of civil society organisations.The activists from Aurat Foundation, Strengthening Participatory Organisation, Khwendo Kor, Shirkat Gah, Noor Education Trust, Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, Human Resource Management and Development Centre, ActionAid, Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child, Sungi Development Foundation and South Asian Partnership -Pakistan came on road to back the journalist community demand for release of the kidnapped persons.

The protest procession started from the Peshawar Press Club and was joined by a good number of political activists and journalists. The demonstrators were carrying banners and placards inscribed with slogans that sought safe release of Sohail Qalander and Niaz and called for protection to journalists.

The participants demanded resignations of the Federal Interior Minister Aftab Ahmad Khan Sherpao and North West Frontier Province (NWFP) Governor Ali Mohammad Jan Orakzai for the poor law and order and their failure to secure the release of the kidnapped journalist and his friend.

After marching through the busy Sher Shah Suri Road, the protesters reached the Governor’s House on Sahibzada Abdul Qayyum Road where they staged a sit-in. Speeches were made wherein the speakers condemned the rulers for their failure in containing the rising lawlessness in the NWFP.

The participants of the rally handed a memorandum to the Governor’s House which said that the civil society organisations were deeply concerned at the kidnapping of Express Peshawar Resident Editor Sohail Qalander and his friend Niaz Mohammad and wanted them released forthwith.

The organisations noted with anguish that one month had passed to the kidnapping, but the government had failed in securing the safe release of the kidnapped persons. “The kidnapping of a senior journalist and his friend was a reflection of the poor law and order situation prevailing in the NWFP,” said the note of concern handed to the governor.

Pointing to the difficult and hazardous atmosphere in which the journalists were carrying out their assigned tasks, the memorandum said the kidnapping of Sohail Qalander and his friend explicitly showed the insecure and challenging environment in which the media persons were working.

The memorandum urged the government to quit inertia and launch serious efforts for the safe release of Sohail Qalander and Niaz Muhammad and end the ordeal of the two families and the unrest that had hit hard the journalist community and the civil society alike.

It may be mentioned here that the 38-year-old city newsperson and his friend were kidnapped from Hayatabad on the night of January 02, 2007. The vehicle they were travelling in (AKD 325) was found abandoned in the jurisdiction of the Tatara Police Station in Hayatabad.

Daily Express is among the reputed Urdu-language dailies of Peshawar. The newspaper is brought out by the Century Publications, which is owned by Sultan Ali Lakhani. The daily appears from 10 big cities of Pakistan – Peshawar, Islamabad, Lahore, Karachi, Multan, Faisalabad, Gujranwala, Sargodha, Raheem Yar Khan and Sukkur. The paper was launched from Peshawar on September 24, 2002 and Sohail Qalander appointed its first Resident Editor.

Source: Business Recorder