PPP activists terrorise Jang Group, Geo employees -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

PPP activists terrorise Jang Group, Geo employees

Lay siege to offices and hurl shoes, stones; journalists stage sit-in outside Sindh CM house; political parties join protest against curbs on media freedom

KARACHI: Activists of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) surrounded the offices of Geo TV Jang and The News situated on II Chundrigar Road on Tuesday, Geo TV reported.

The activists, who continued pouring in at the scene till late afternoon, also threw stones and shoes at the offices of the Jang Group and Geo. The PPP workers showed shoes to Geo TV and Jang Group employees and uttered abusive words.

They also burnt copies of the daily Jang and The News. The PPP workers holding flags of the party raised full- throated slogans in favour of President Asif Ali Zardari. The party workers went on a wall-chalking spree against the Jang Group and Geo under police cover. The police and administration kept standing by as silent spectators.

Armed people tortured a Geo TV driver and snatched papers from news stalls with the police standing silently by watching the incident.

The PPP activists’ appearance on the II Chundrigar Road triggered massive gridlocks on the adjacent roads, including MA Jinnah Road and Shahrah-e- Faisal, posing huge hardships for the people.

Imtiaz All adds: Meanwhile, the journalist community on the second consecutive day on Tuesday continued protests against the burning of copies of The News and the Daily Jang, and blocking of telecast of Geo and ARY.

In Karachi, journalists staged a sit-in outside the Chief Minister’s House to draw the attention of the chief minister and provincial cabinet towards the curbs on media freedoms.

Members of civil society and political parties also joined the protest and demonstrated their solidarity with the journalists.

The journalists dispersed peacefully after staging a sit-in outside the Chief Minister’s House to chalk out the future line of action on Wednesday (today) by the journalists’ organisations if the restrictions on TV channels were not removed and high-handed tactics against the Jang Group were not ended.

The slain PPP chairperson Benazir Bhutto’s Sound clippings were also played on this occasion, which contained her comments about the significance of media freedom for the development of society, holding the government accountable and strengthening the democratic process.

In one of her comments, Benazir Bhutto had said: “The independent media is imperative for the independence of the country. When the media would be free, it would enhance the prestige of the country in the comity of the nations and when there would be curbs on media freedom, the country’s image in the world would be damaged”.

The former premier in another comment opened that media freedom was imperative for development of the society earlier, the journalists belonging to the Karachi Union of Journalists (KUJ), Pakistan Federal Union of Journalist (PFUJ), Association of TV Journalists (ATJ) and hawkers associations gathered outside the Karachi Press Club.

Delegations of the MQM, Sindh National Front and representatives of human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) and other civil society organisations also joined the protest.

Addressing the protesters, representative of the hawkers’ association, Iqbal Noon said the political parties should change the mode of protest and adopt civilised ways. He regretted the hawkers who get up at 4am to distribute newspapers were being attacked and their legs were broken.

The hawkers’ leader, Abdul Hameed, said such high-handed tactics by the rulers were adopted in the past but they always failed. “The present injustice against the media would also meet the same fate.”

KUJ President Khurshid Abbasi recalled that journalists supported by people from other walks of life had ended their sit- in outside the Chief Minister’s House on Monday as they were informed that the blockade of TV channels was being lifted.

Subsequently, the telecast was blocked again. “We have come to know through cable operators that they are being pressurized by certain PPP leaders and the government to block the telecast of Geo and ARY.”

The KUJ leader said the PPP workers on Tuesday laid siege of the Jang Group’s buildings and threw stones at its offices. He said the government though such tactics was deliberately provoking the Journalists’ community.

Later, the journalists started a march towards the Chief Minister’s House. Carrying banners inscribing slogans `Benazir, we are ashamed media still under restrictions, independent media necessary for independent society,’ `Rulers high- handed tactics,’ and chanting slogans such as `whoever is the enemy of the media is the enemy of lie slate,’ `Khapay Khapay media Khapay,’ etc they reached the Chief Minister’s House in hot and humid weather.

Addressing protesters, ATJ leader Faisal Aziz said the journa1ists were staging a sit-in to draw the attention of the chief minister and his cabinet towards torching of newspapers and blocking the telecast of the channels.

He said Benazir Bhutto was strong believer in media freedoms, but the Zardari-led government was violating the party policy chalked out by the slain chairperson. When he said that the PPP workers have laid siege of the Jang Group, the protesters chanted `shame, shame.’

He said those who threw stones at the offices of the Jang Group could not be called followers of Benazir Bhutto. KUJ general secretary Hasan Abbas, The News union leader, Shakeel Khan and others also spoke.

The chief minister’s advisor for political affairs, Rashid Rabbani, and the chief minister’s consultant for media, Waqar Mehdi, came out from the CM House and held talks with the Journalists. As they did not give any assurance for removing restrictions against the telecast of Geo and ARY channels, the sit-in continued. Rabbani claimed that neither PPP workers nor the government was involved in the torching copies of the newspapers and blocking the telecast of the channels.

Our correspondent adds

From Lahore: The country will not bear dictatorial actions under the cloak of democracy and the curb on Geo TV will be deemed as an assault on the freedom of all media and the nation.

This was the unanimous understanding of journalist and members of the civil society, who staged a large protest demonstration at the Lahore Press Club against the government’s anti-Geo TV actions.

The protest was led by (Geo Television) Lahore Bureau Chief Khawa’r Naeem Hashmi. The protestors were holding banners and placards inscribed with slogans denouncing restrains on freedom of expression and abuse of democratic power.

They chanted slogans against the government and demanded an end to such cowardly acts of blocking journalism.

Punjab Union of Journalists President Rai Husnain Tahir said that the whole media community was united against any such governmental act and these protests would continue until the government learned to respect the rights of the people and media.

Our correspondent adds,

From Gujranwala: Journalists staged a protest against burning of the copies of The News, The daily Jang and blocking of Geo TV transmission.

They took out a rally carrying placards and chanting slogans against rulers. They marched from Press Club on GT Road. The procession was led by Mirza lqbal, Tanvir Butt, Azam Butt, and Asad Habib. They accused the government of taking a dictatorial stance against the spirit of democracy. They pledged to protect the freedom of expression.

Source: The News