Sana smells a rat in media outlets’ campaign against Geo | Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Pakistan Press Foundation

Sana smells a rat in media outlets’ campaign against Geo

Pakistan Press Foundation

LAHORE: Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah has said that after both the government and the army had expressed their commitment to upholding and protecting media freedom, it is incomprehensible who certain media owners are trying to prove their loyalty to by running a smear campaign against the Jang Group.

Speaking at a convention, held to mark World Press Freedom Day at the Aiwan-e-Iqbal, Rana Sanaullah said Hamid Mir had expressed his suspicion which was voiced by his brother and his channel under emotionally hyper-charged circumstances while Hamid was fighting for his life. He said organisations are not run by computers but by individuals who are emotional beings; therefore, it would not be justified to tag the way the channel reacted as anti-state behaviour. The other viewpoint was also being telecast simultaneously at that time.

He said the incident had resulted in many interesting reactions. Those who posed as stalwarts of rebellion and had anything but revolution written on their foreheads have changed faces and stances at this point.

The minister said Hamid Mir, already known for his brilliant journalism, earned himself the position of the leader of the caravan of journalists of the present era. He said the six bullets received by Hamid Mir are six medals of valour, and his relentless striving to uphold truth and accountability in society.

Those who are undermining this valour by overshadowing their critique of the way Geo reacted are alligators looking for a chance to serve their interests. He said Hamid Mir had a suspicion and that suspicion can be investigated and removed through an independent inquiry. If the PML-N government can sit down and negotiate to settle the grievances of those who shoot bullets, it can surely settle the concerns of the one who received the bullets, he added.

The minister said no pressure group in the form of cable operators can influence actions through a press conference. Such actions should be avoided, and those who orchestrate such activity should seriously reconsider the direction they are heading.

He said freedom of the press and democracy are synonymous and this government understands that.

Speaking on the occasion, Federal Minister for Ports and Shipping Kamran Michael said that freedom of expression was a constitutional right not only of journalists but also of politicians who had struggled for it alongside the media. Therefore, he added, no restriction on this right would be tolerated.

Veteran journalist and media leader Abdul Hameed Chaprra said that freedom of expression was never presented to the media as a gift, rather journalists rendered sacrifices for it. He said that when the media is praised for speaking the truth, it should also be appreciated for its criticism of government steps. Commenting on the Protection of Pakistan Ordinance, he said that though the country faced an emergency-like situation, he could not help criticising a law which contravened fundamental rights.

Commenting on the Karachi situation, he said a criminal was a criminal regardless of political affiliation. However, he needed to be handled in a legal, not extra-judicial, manner.

PTI MNA Shafqat Mahmood said although the PTI has its problems with the Jang Group, the party will not allow the closure of any media group or channel. He said the journalists of Pakistan have struggled hard to earn their freedom and this freedom cannot be compromised. He said the freedom of the press faces more challenges in the modern era as previously only state institutions tried curbing their freedom but now non-state extremists too have created a dangerous work environment for journalists.

Geo TV Network Lahore Bureau Chief Khawar Naeem Hashmi said the voice of the truth cannot be shunned through smear campaigns and propaganda. He said the media groups criticising and defiling Hamid Mir and the Jang Group are the ones who are the biggest culprits of journalist victimisation as they don’t pay the journalists. He said that some of them have blood of those journalists on their hands who committed suicide due to poverty.

PPP leader Jahangir Badar said the history of the country was replete with sacrifices and struggle which led to the current state of media freedom in Pakistan. He pointed out the torture, detentions and fines for speaking the truth while 130 lost their lives serving this quest for truth. He said responsibility and duty go hand in hand and the media groups should all sit together to formulate a code of ethics and conduct.

Ameerul Azeem said he too had walked shoulder to shoulder with journalists and faced torture by the police. He said under no circumstances whatsoever would even the slightest curb on any journalist, channel or group be tolerated and this would only ignite the fire for a more vicious struggle for freedom.

PFUJ President Rana Azeem, PTI MPA Aslam Iqbal, and veteran journalists who had braved torture and detention during the dark dictatorial regimes also spoke on the occasion.

Afzal Butt, Arshad Ansari Khursheed Abbasi, Shafi-ud-Din, Ikram Bukhari, Shahbaz Mian, Waseem Farooq address rally

LAHORE: The Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ), while condemning a murder attempt on senior anchorperson Hamid Mir, has warned that any curbs on the independent media and the economic murder of employees working in different media organisations will not be tolerated at any cost.

Addressing a function held here at the Lahore Press Club on Saturday to mark the World Press Freedom Day, PFUJ President Afzal Butt said the entire journalist community was shocked at the registration of a case against senior journalist Amir Mir, the brother of Hamid Mir. He said the PFUJ would consult senior lawyers over the issue and announce its future course of action soon.

Afzal Butt said different cases were being registered in various parts of the country, including Balochistan, against media persons which was a cause of great concern for the whole community. He demanded that all such cases be withdrawn immediately.

PFUJ General Secretary Khursheed Abbasi, APNEC Chairman Shafi-ud-Din Ashraf, Secretary General Ikram Bukhari, Lahore Press Club President Arshad Ansari, Secretary Shahbaz Mian, Punjab Union of Journalists (PUJ) President Waseem Farooq Shahid and presidents of Karachi, Quetta, Peshawar, Skardu, Rahim Yar Khan, Faisalabad, Sukkur, Azad Kashmir and Hyderabad press clubs besides a large number of journalists from across country participated in the event.

The press clubs, presidents announced on the occasion that the whole community would follow Afzal Butt whatever he decides in the current circumstances. They said there would be no compromise on the independence of the media and the whole community would defend their right to freedom at every cost.

Later, all the participants took out a rally from the Lahore Press Club to the Punjab Assembly and condemned the murder attempt on Hamid Mir and demanded arrest of the culprits.

Among the rally participants were PFUJ President Afzal Butt, LPC President Arshad Ansari, PUJ President Waseem Farooq, LPC General Secretary Shahbaz Mian, Sabar Awan, Rauf Sheikh, Muneer Khokhar, Farrukh Butt and others.

The participants, including women journalists, were carrying placards and banners inscribed with slogans in favour of freedom of the media such as ‘Save the journalist’, ‘Stop killing journalists’, ‘Freedom is our right’, etc. They also demanded of the government to introduce a journalists’ protection bill in parliament to provide them safety. They said the government should also introduce legislation for secret agencies to have a check on their working. They vowed that they would resist every attempt of the government to ban any channel or newspaper in the country. They said no curbs on the media would be tolerated and they would protect their freedom at all costs. They said they had paid a heavy price for democracy and freedom of the media and would continue doing so in the future as well.

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