Interior minister asks FC to provide security to journalists
Video grab from footage of shooting to death by Rangers men of a young man in Karachi.
ISLAMABAD: The interior minister asked the Frontier Constabulary on Friday to provide security to two media personnel receiving threats for preparing and distributing footage of the shooting to death by Rangers men of a young man in Karachi.
Orders from Interior Minister Rehman A. Malik came in the Senate minutes after Chairman Farooq H. Naek directed authorities concerned to protect life and property of Abdul Salam Soomro and Zahid Khokhar of Awaz TV.
Jamal Tarkai – a Quetta-based journalist who had produced before a judicial tribunal the footage of an incident involving murder of five foreigners by police and Frontier Corps personnel near Quetta last month – has also been provided security.
Mr Soomro and Mr Khokhar were present in the Parliament House on Friday. Sources said that Mr Malik had also assigned one of the security guards performing duty with him to remain with the two journalists for their security.
The Senate chairman, in his unusual ruling, also called for tracing and arresting those making threatening calls to three media personnel and directed that a report be submitted before the house by June 17.
The issue was raised in the house by PPP Secretary General Senator Jehangir Badr after journalists staged a token walkout from press galleries of both houses to protest against the harassment of three media persons.
Jehangir Badr, who met leaders of journalist community in the press gallery along with Federal Health Minister Riaz Pirzada after the walkout, informed the house that the three media men had been receiving life threatening calls from unknown numbers.
“The country cannot move forward if journalists were not given protection to freely discharge their professional duties,” Mr Naek said.
Even before the chairman’s ruling and walkout by press, the Karachi incident dominated proceedings, with Senators belonging to different political parties demanding immediate steps to investigate the incident and to ensure security to media team which captured footage of the crime.
Speaking on a point of order raised by Senator Tahir Hussain Mashhadi, former federal Minister Senator Raza Rabbani said that Rangers had violated fundamental human rights. He said the shameful act of brutally killing an unarmed young man was a violation of Articles 9, 10 and 14 of the Constitution.
He said such incidents were earlier being reported from Balochistan and now they were happening in Sindh. He termed the statement of interior minister unjustified saying that no law allowed killing of a man when the accused was unarmed and surrounded by six security officials who could easily arrest him.
He also demanded protection to the cameraman of a private television channel who had captured the video footage of the incident.
Senator Nayyar Bokhari called for security of the media team who was receiving threats.
Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haidari said that no action had been taken against those responsible for the Kharotabad incident and because of such incidents were taking place in other parts of the country.
He said five to six unidentified and mutilated bodies were being found in Balochistan every day, adding that such incidents must be taken seriously.
Another issue which was discussed in Senate was controversy over appointment of the Leader of Opposition in Senate with both PML-N and JUI-F accusing each other of vitiating the atmosphere of the house.
Raja Muhammad Zafarul Haq asked the Senate chairman to suspend the notification of appointing Abdul Ghafoor Haideri as the Leader of the Opposition if he wanted to re-visit the decision.
Ishaq Dar, the PML-N n others in the name of national interest.
He said that tehsil council level politics had been introduced in Senate where he alleged mala fide decisions were being taken
Later, Senate chairman Farooq H. Naek convened a meeting in his chambers to resolve the issue, which remained inconclusive.
Informed sources told Dawn that the PML-N repeated its demand for suspension or withdrawal of an earlier notification, but Mr Naek said he could not pronounce a judgment before hearing took place. The sources said that a discussion on the controversy would start on Monday.
The meeting was attended by Raja Zafarul Haq, Ishaq Dar, Pervez Rasheed (PML-N), Haroon Akhtar and Ghaffar Qureshi (PML Likeminded), Azam Swati, Maulana Shirani, Maulana Gul Naseeb, Ghulam Ali and Talha Mehmood (JUI-F) and Leader of the House in Senate Nayyar Bokhari.