ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ), an umbrella organisation for all the affiliated journalists’ unions across Pakistan, has called upon the journalists to hold protest demonstrations and meetings on Wednesday (Nov 14, 2018) to protest against the raid on the Karachi Press Club and the arrest of a senior journalist on trumped up charges, says press release.
“We consider raid on Karachi Press Club as a direct attack on the freedom of Press and arrest of senior journalist Nasrullah Chaudhry in a fake case as an attempt to create an atmosphere of harassment among the journalists’ community,” said a joint statement issued by PFUJ President Afzal Butt and Secretary General Ayub Jan Sarhandi.
“This is not the journalists were expecting in a ‘new Pakistan’ but it appears that the silence of the government over the incident and on the arrest of a journalist in a fake case speaks volumes about its intents.”
The statement said that the journalists’ community “totally rejects the claim of CTD that the raid on Press Club was because of some misunderstanding. “We believe it was a part of the larger plan to silence the voice of a free and independent institution and the media at large.”
Similarly, the statement said, the arrest of a senior journalist on trumped up charges is an indication that the government has let loose the agencies to harass the journalists’ community to bring them in line.
“Since the establishment of a new government, the Press has been put under pressure of every kind,” it said. “First the media establishments were financially squeezed and now physical raids are being conducted on institutions that stand for the independence of Press and freedom of expression.”
PFUJ President Afzal Butt and Secretary General Ayub Jan Sarhandi also dismissed the fake case registered against Nasrullah Chaudhry.
“The CTD claim that Nasrullah Chaudhry was arrested from Soldier Bazar in itself is a blatant lie as according to his family Nasrullah was arrested from his residence by plain clothes men,” the statement said. “The CTD claim that anti-government and anti-army literature has been recovered from his possession is also a proof that the government had nothing to make a case and an old excuse was used to justify his arrest.”
“Let we make it once again clear that the journalists community has been and will forcefully resist any attempt either by the government or any other state institution to impose curbs on the freedom of expression.”
The PFUJ leadership called upon all the affiliated unions to hold protest rallies and demonstrations across the country to protest against this high-handedness on Nov 14, 2018 (Wednesday) and hoist black flags atop press clubs throughout Pakistan.
It also called upon all the journalists to stage walk-outs from the National and Provincial Assemblies during their sessions. The PFUJ leadership also called upon all the political parties present in the National Assemblies and the Provincial Assemblies to raise this issue on the floor of their houses.
“We also call upon the civil society organisations to condemn this incident and join the journalists in this countrywide protest. Jamal Khurshid adds from Karachi: The administrative judge of the anti-terrorism court in Karachi on Monday turned down a Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) request for two-week police remand of journalist Nasrullah Khan, who was booked under the anti-terrorism law after two days of illegal confinement, and directed the investigation officer to complete the inquiry within two days.
The Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) showed the arrest of Khan, associated with an Urdu-language daily, on November 11 by registering a case on charges he had links with al-Qaeda operatives and possessed literature and magazinesof proscribed and banned organisations inciting hatred against the Pakistan Army and the government.
The administrative judge, Justice Naimatullah Phulpoto, asked the investigation officer under which charges the journalist had been booked and why the police remand of the suspect was required.
Investigation Officer Ali Haider said the suspect was arrested under sections 11-W and 11-F read with Section 7 of the Anti Terrorism Act as hate material against the Pakistan Army and the government was recovered from his possession besides, the suspect had links with al-Qaeda operative Khalid Mukashi. Khan’s counsel, Mohammad Farooq and Karachi Bar Association president Haider Imam Rizvi, strongly opposed the police remand request, saying that their client was a senior journalist and had nothing to do with any offence or criminal activities.
They further submitted that national and international media had already reported his illegal detention, and journalist bodies had also raised their voice by staging demonstrations. They said the spouse of the journalist had filed a petition in the SHC against Khan’s illegal confinement and expressed apprehension that he might be booked in any criminal case.
After hearing the arguments of the counsel, the administrative judge observed that the investigation officer’s request for two-week remand was unjustified, and granted two-day custody of the suspect with the direction to complete the investigation within two days.
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