Rights bodies warn of protest if media attacked
KARACHI: A coalition of various non-governmental organisations championing for the rights of the marginalised communities on Thursday condemned the attack on journalist Hamid Mir and committed itself to standing by his family “in this hour of pain and sorrow”.
“We believe that the attack on Mr Mir is an attack on the freedom of expression,” said a joint declaration by the coalition calling itself the joint action committee (JAC) Karachi at a press conference at the Karachi Press Club.
The speakers called for the total enforcement of human rights, fundamentally the rights to protection of life and freedom of expression, which the constitution had guaranteed.
“We believe it is the responsibility of the state and the government of Pakistan to ensure protection of life and dignity of all citizens,” said Mehnaz Rehman representing the Aurat Foundation.
Speakers said the JAC was the supporter of responsible, unbiased and independent role journalism and journalists could play in a society. They said they believed that the media should play a fair and fearless role in bringing truth to the fore.
They called the debate on the role of intelligence agencies in society on the national media a ‘healthy sign’ that journalists were not afraid of tackling any issue of national and human interest.
“A serious and objective debate on such issues of national importance strengthens the independence of our society and the country as a whole,” said one speaker.
They said those agencies should assure the citizens of the country that their role was strictly within the confines of law and they were committed to enhancing the security of the common citizens of Pakistan, notably journalists and the media workers.
Only such assurances, they said, in words and deeds, could result in the ties of trust between the civil society of the country and the ‘establishment’.
They called the forced removal of Geo TV’s transmission from parts of the country as unfortunate, which, they said should never be a case. Instead, they added, if someone had complaints one should resolve that in the court of law.
“We’ll resist against any attempt aimed at banning any TV or newspaper and at the same time media should itself evolve its code of ethics to tackle future challenges effectively,” said Ms Rehman.