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June 21, 2018

Attempts being made to intimidate media: Rabbani

National

June 21, 2018

ISLAMABAD: Former chairman Senate Mian Raza Rabbani Wednesday said it was unfortunate that in the run up to elections, attempts were being made to intimidate the print and electronic media by way of physical intimidation, abduction and torture of dissenting journalists and blocking of news channels.

“Such actions are a denial of Article 19 of the Constitution, 1973, which is a fundamental right and provides ‘….and there shall be freedom of the press….’. Such actions are also denial of the fundamental right guaranteed under Article 19(A), the right of every citizen to have access to information in all matters of public interest,” he said in a statement.

Rabbani said that the harassment of working journalists, newspaper editors and columnists from expressing dissent in columns in their newspapers was highly condemnable. “This is limited not only to the working journalists but also newspaper distributors and cable operators also face intimidation,” he noted.

The slide carrying photographs of prominent journalists/columnists during a press conference of the ISPR, he said, was also highly regrettable. “The Amnesty International and the International Press Institute in their reports/letters have also referred to the same. If this campaign continues, the holding of free, fair and just elections, as stipulated under the Constitution, will become next to impossible. Let such forces be warned that the social and political fibre of Pakistani society and the polarisation within the Federation cannot withstand an engineered election,” he said.

Rabbani said that the media is the fourth pillar of the state. “It appears that a hidden hand is gradually dismantling the pillars of the Federation in order to weaken it. The executive due to its bad governance and isolation from Parliament has fallen prey, while Parliament has been unable to defend itself. One by one the pillars are being targeted to the extent that they are becoming irrelevant actors in the affairs of the state,” he said, adding: “The most appropriate forum for raising this issue is the Committee of the Whole or Standing Committee on Information of the Senate, but unfortunately it seems that the Senate has deliberately shut its doors.”

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