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May 27, 2016

Senior journalist attacked during PTI protest against PM


May 27, 2016

LONDON: Pakistani journalists union in Britain – Pakistan Journalists Association (PJA) and Pakistan Press Club (PPC) – came together to condemn attack on senior journalist, Ahmed Ali Syed, who was abused and harassed during PTI’s protest outside Hasan Nawaz Sharif’s flat in London on Wednesday evening.

Ahmed Ali Syed, who has worked for PTV for over 2 decades and now works for a private TV channel that is a great supporter of Imran Khan, was attacked when he commented that around 60-80 people were attending the protest against Nawaz Sharif over PanamaLeaks. The attacker started abusing Ahmed Ali Syed for “lying about the number of protestors”, “for being an agent of Nawaz Sharif”, “lifafa”, “sold out”.

The witnesses saw how the attacker was joined by three other protestors, wearing PTI badges as they openly abused Mr Syed and shouted at him, using extremely vulgar and threatening language (the slangs used for journalists cannot be repeated).

Several other activists then shouted abuses and accused mediamen of being on the “payroll of Nawaz sharif”. Journalists linked with various media groups then boycotted the remaining part of the protest which saw around 130 people attending the protest from across the UK. At the time when Ahmed Ali Syed was abused, only about 60 or so activists were in attendance but the number later grew.

PTI London President Barrister Waheed ur Rehman Mian, who had given call for the protest, said in a press conference that his party strongly condemned “any abusive and aggressive behaviour of any nature against any person from any background”. Barritser Waheed said that there was an argument between a senior media person and another person named Tariq Mehmood who represented “patriotic Front” which is an independent organisation and nothing to do with PTI.

“It has come to our attention that later on there were further exchanges between one or two participants and media persons. We, PTI, at the scene, condemned the aggressive and abusive behaviour and assured all media persons that we have nothing to do with the perpetrators of any wrongful act. We also felt at the same time that some of the media wrongly reported that there was an “attack” on a senior media person, as the police present there was not informed of any such “attack”. However, if there was any attack on any media person by anyone we strongly recommend that a legal action must be initiated against such culprit(s).”

But footage has emerged which shows that senior PTI leader from London Faisal Khawaja congratulating Tariq Mahmood, an official of the Friends of Layari group, and saying “well done” to him for abusing the veteran journalist. Footage shows that Tariq Mahmood is laughing and abusing media men again in the video while the senior PTI official appreciates him. PTI said it had nothing to do with Tariq Mahmood but Tariq Mahmood provided sound system for the PTI protest outside Nawaz Sharif home and led the chants.

Pakistan Journalists Association (PJA) Secretary General Wajahat Ali Khan said that attacks on media had risen to frightening levels at the political events of Pakistanis. He said that he had received reports two years ago from dozens of journalists who were attacked by members of a political party, who issued abuses and threats. Wajahat Ali Khan called on PTI leader Imran Khan to look into the issue of attack on journalists during PTI event and expel those involved in the attack to teach the hooligans a lesson.

Wajahat Ali Khan said, “We are deeply concerned over the abusive/threatening behaviour made by the protesters of “Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf” UK, while Ali Ahmad Syed was attending a event at the place in the line of his professional journalistic duty outside of PM Nawaz Sharif’s London residence.

It is to be noted that the persons blamed were notorious in sending threats to media persons and journalists in the past as well. PJA is also writing to Commonwealth Press Union and NUJ to highlight journalists’ plight. PJA supports the freedom of media in general and works for greater rights for journalists, associations and the networks.”

Pakistan Press Club’s Secretary General Shaukat Dar said that attack on Ahmed Ali Syed was shocking and showed how intolerant political workers of some parties had become.

He said that PTI used to tell others about the MQM’s hostility towards media but now it had crossed all the limits. Shaukat Dar said that PTI leadership seriously needed to take stock of how some of its workers behaved towards critical media and then the leadership simply disassociated itself from the goons without taking any responsibility. He called on PTI leadership to give educational lessons to PTI workers on tolerance and political criticism.

The protest outside Hasan Nawaz Sharif’s home was arranged by PTI to protest against PM Sharif and to call for accountability against members of the Sharif family over Panama papers.       


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