ISLAMABAD: Journalists and representatives of various political and civil rights organisations held protests across the country on Saturday to condemn attacks on the offices of the daily Jang and Geo News, and burning of a few bundles of copies of the daily Jang in Sindh.
The protestors chanted slogans and criticised the government for its failure to protect journalists and media persons in Pakistan. They demanded the authorities to ensure protection of journalists so that they could perform their duties without fear.
A large number of people - including journalists and representatives of the Punjab Union of Journalists (PUJ), the Lahore Press Club, the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), the Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI), the Judicial Activism Panel, the Labour Party Pakistan, the Pakistan Workers Federation - gathered outside the Lahore Press Club to protest against the attack on offices of the Jang Group.
Recently, a nationalist party of Sindh protested and burnt a few copies of the daily Jang in different cities of the province. The party, while threatening to continue causing hindrance in the delivery of newspapers, had also attacked the offices of Geo News and caused damage to expensive equipment. Besides, cable operators were also pressurised to stop the transmission of Geo News in different parts of the province.
Protests were also held in the twin cities of Rawalpindi, Islamabad and Karachi, several small cities. A large number of journalists took part in these protests to condemn attacks on the freedom of expression.
The Pakistan Newspaper Association, Council for Pakistan Newspaper Editors, Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists Karachi, and the Association of TV Journalists also condemned attack on office of Geo/Jang.
Protesters outside the Lahore Press Club said journalism was under attack even during an elected democratic government in Pakistan, terming recent attacks on Jang and Geo offices victimisation on part of the government.
Judicial Activism Panel (JAP) chairman Advocate Muhammad Azhar Siddique, strongly criticised the government for its failure to control lawlessness and ever-increasing inflation in the country, saying it was unfortunate that journalists exposing the real face of the rulers were being threatened and pressurised by such tactics. He added the journalists and media persons would not sit silent and would continue exposing corruption of rulers and politicians. He recalled the role of media during the movement for restoration of judiciary, assuring his all-out support to the media.
JI Punjab chapter Ameer Dr Waseem Akhtar also condemned attacks on the offices of Jang and Geo News, and the burning of a few packs of copies of the daily Jang. He said other media organisations were also being targeted in Sindh, adding the entire nation was protesting against the lawlessness. JI Lahore chapter chief Amirul Azeem termed media eyes and ears of the people, saying attack on media was synonymous to attack on the people. “We strongly condemn such incidents and demand of the government to take prompt action in this regard,” he added.
Punjab Union of Journalists acting president Amir Sohail appealed to the masses to come out on roads and protest against the highhandedness of the government. He warned if the government failed to stop such incidents, a countrywide campaign would be launched and protests would be launched across the country. He also demanded the government ensure protection of journalists, adding it was unfortunate that journalists were being kidnapped, threatened and killed.
PTI secretary information Omar Sarfaraz Cheema, Khurshid Ahmed of Pakistan Workers Federation, Lahore Press Club’s vice president Zahid Abid, PUJ’s Waseem Farooq, Farooq Tariq of the Labour Party Pakistan and activists of Insaf Students Federation (ISF) among others also spoke on the occasion and condemned the increasing incidents of attack on offices of media organisations, especially offices of Jang and Geo News in Sindh.
Photographers Association President Muhammad Imran, General Secretary Akram Shahid, Zafar Rajput, a famous lawyer from Hyderabad, and other journalist associations also condemned the attack. Religious and civilian circles of the city of Hala also flayed the attacks on the offices of Geo/Jang Group and burning of a few copies of the daily Jang.
A protest meeting was held in Kasur at the local press club. The meeting termed the attacks a conspiracy against the media, which was exposing anti-social elements. The participants of the meeting said attackers at the behest of so-called leaders wanted to destabilise the country.
Chuninia Press Club president Hafiz Sharif Asraf presided over a meeting to reject the attack on Geo/ Jang Group. Muridke Union of Journalists held a protest on GT Road, besides Tandlianwala Union of Journalists also strongly condemned the attacks.
Separately, MQM chief Altaf Hussain strongly condemned the attacks on the offices of Geo and Jang Group as well as of a private TV channel by certain elements in different cities of Sindh.
In a statement issued by the party from its international secretariat on Saturday, Altaf said the attacks were aimed at undermining the freedom of the press and media, and could not be justified at any cost.
He said everyone had the right to disagree with the reports and analyses appearing in the press and on the electronic media, but carrying out attacks on the offices of the press and television channels, and manhandling journalists were condemnable acts. The MQM chief expressed solidarity with the journalist community and demanded swift action against the perpetrators of the attacks.
Former Information Minister Muhammad Ali Durrani, Safron chairman Hfiz Abdul Rashid, and Balochistan Senator Hamyun Khan Mandokhel are among the politicians who condemned attacks on the attack on Geo/Jang office, and the burning of a few bundles of the daily Jang.
Meanwhile, Special Assistant to Punjab Chief Minister Pervaiz Rashid strongly condemned firing at offices of Geo TV in Nawabshah and Mirpurkhas.
Senator Pervaiz Rashid termed it an attack on freedom of journalism. In a statement, he said such action by any person or group against a national daily and TV channel in Sindh province was reflective of an anti-democratic approach and insult to the peoples’ mandate.
Senator Pervaiz Rashid said contrary to the PPP government, the PML-N government in Punjab believed in freedom of expression and always encouraged the role of media organisations in strengthening Pakistan and democratic values as it considered freedom of expression vital for the continuity of democracy.