Journalists boycott NA session
ISLAMABAD, April 19,2005: Journalists covering the National Assembly boycotted its Monday’s session to protest against alleged maltreatment of newsmen on the arrival of People’s Party Parliamentarians leader Asif Ali Zardari in Lahore from Dubai on April 16.
They decided to continue the boycott on April 19 unless the National Assembly condemns the Punjab government for its role in the incident. Three ministerial delegations tried to persuade the journalists to end the boycott but they did not accept their demand for a resolution condemning the provincial government.
The opposition groups of the Alliance for Restoration of Democracy and the Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal (MMA) said they too had staged a token walkout with their allies to express solidarity with the protesting journalists.
Earlier, a meeting of the journalists passed a resolution, condemning the alleged police violence on newsmen in Lahore and calling the snatching of their pens, cameras and tape-recorders as a “serious violation” of fundamental rights and freedom of press and expression.
The resolution demanded an apology from the Punjab chief minister and called for an immediate suspension of a police officer blamed for the violence. It urged both the treasury and opposition benches to pass a unanimous resolution of condemnation.
The ARD leaders distributed the text of a resolution that, they said, they had tabled in the assembly session but had not been taken up. The resolution said the police action against journalists “could only have been ordered by the highest authorities of the federation and the province of the Punjab.”
It called for “immediate suspension of all the provincial officials responsible for the reprehensible incident as a prelude to appropriate and speedy disciplinary action and criminal prosecution in accordance with law.” The ARD leaders said they had also given a notice of moving an adjournment motion in the house about the incident.