Arrest of senior journalist: PPP supports protesting Karachi journalists

KARACHI: Expressing grave concern over the attack on the Karachi Press Club (KPC) and arrest of senior journalist Nasarullah Chaudhry on fabricated charges, Central Information Secretary of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Nafisa Shah on Tuesday said the PPP would raise this issue in parliament and support journalists in their struggle for democratic rights and freedom of expression.

“I have come to the Karachi Press Club on the directives of PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, who believes in freedom of expression and stands with the Pakistani press and media. Last week he had himself attended a protest on the issue of wages and retrenchments of journalists,” Nafisa Shah said while speaking at a camp of journalists to mark their protest against the attack on the KPC and arrest of senior journalist Nasarullah Chaudhry.

People from different walks of life, including political workers, human rights activists, labourers and common people, are visiting the protest camp established by the Karachi Press Club (KPC) members against trespassing by armed men and violation of sanctity of their combined abode in addition to abduction of senior journalist Nasarullah Chaudhry last week, who was later presented in the court on fabricated charges and accused of terrorism by possessing some books and magazines.

On the occasion, leaders of different unions of journalists joined their hands in unity to give a clear message to undemocratic forces that they were united against tyranny and oppression and vowed to continue the joint struggle till the detained journalist Nasarullah was released and an unconditional public apology given on attack at the KPC.

PPP’s Central Information Secretary Nafisa Shah said the Karachi Press Club was always at the forefront of struggle for democracy and freedom of expression but now at a time when its sanctity had been violated, her party would stand with the journalist fraternity and support their peaceful struggle for the release of their colleague and restoration of KPC’s honour.

She maintained that the KPC and its members had always supported oppressed segments of society, including labourers and political workers, helped them in raising their voices and supported them in their struggle for their rights and added that now it was the responsibility of political forces and civil society to support journalists in their campaign.

“We will demand the federal government to ensure freedom of expression and end intimidation of journalists immediately”, she said and also assured the KPC members that she would discuss this issue with the PPP leadership so that this issue could be raised at relevant forums.

Secretary General of the Council of Pakistan Newspaper Editors (CPNE) Dr. Jabbar Khattak strongly condemned the violation of sanctity of the Karachi Press Club and deplored that this democratic institution, which remained safe even during dictatorships, was attacked in a so-called democratic regime, which declares itself as champion of justice and freedom.

“But this attack against freedom of expression and arrest of journalist Nasarullah Chaudhry cannot prevent journalists from uncovering the truth and journalists will continue their movement for democratic and Constitutional rights”, he maintained.

Senior journalist and former secretary KPC Mazhar Abbas urged journalists to stand united and be prepared for a long struggle as they were the last institution in the line of an undemocratic regime, which was trying to subdue all the sane and democratic voices in the country.

“I would urge you to remain united and spread this message to all the journalists in the city to come out and support their detained colleague. Attack on this press club is not a simple incident and for the resumption of its honour, we would have to take serious measures”, he urged.

President KPC Ahmed Khan Malik vowed to continue the struggle for the freedom of expression and make it a nation-wide movement in the days to come, saying on the call of Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ), protests, demonstrations, camps and sit-ins would be held on Wednesday in entire Pakistan against the attack on KPC and arrest of senior journalist Nasarullah Chaudhry.

Several other journalists and visitors including KUJ-Dastoor leader Shoaib Ahmed, PPP labour leader Habibuddin Junaidi, journalist Saeed Jan Baloch, Khursheed Tanveer as well as representatives from the Aurat Foundation and Human Rights Council of Pakistan (HRCP) also spoke on the occasion.