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LAHORE: A protest was held at the Lahore Press Club on Tuesday to condemn the recent killing of Kashmiri journalist Shujaat Bukhari in Srinagar.

The journalist was known for his peaceful stance and worked to bring about peace and stability to the region. He was shot to death outside his office in the Indian-occupied Kashmir.

The protest coincides with demonstrations organised in various cities of South Asia over the killing of ‘voices of peace’ in troubled areas.

In Lahore, the civil society organisations, journalists and others joined the protest where PML-N’s former information minister Pervez Rashid spoke about the freedom of speech and said it’s terrible the way journalists all over the world were being threatened, intimidated and killed.

“No journalist should have to face these threats or violence,” he said while condemning the incident.

He expressed solidarity with the journalists for press freedom and their security and called for an independent inquiry into the killing of Bukhari. He said that without respecting freedom of expression and civil rights of the people there cannot be democracy. He cautioned against the efforts to muzzle media freedom which would cast doubts about the fairness of elections.

Azam Chaudhry, the press club president who represented the journalists at the protest, said the work of Shujaat Bukhari was indeed praiseworthy. He said that globally whenever a journalist has raised his or her voice against injustice, they have been threatened and even killed. However nothing much is being done to fix this situation.

He said the UN and other global peace committees should take note of this particular incident and take strict action against the occupying forces in Kashmir.

In Pakistan, he deplored, the situation was worse than it’s in many other countries because journalists are intimidated all the time. “It is about time the government take notice of these happenings and do something about it,” he demanded.

He also called upon the journalists and their organisations to unite to protect the community and media freedom.

South Asia Free Media Association Secretary General Imtiaz Alam called upon the authorities concerned to help stop such acts of terrorism. He paid rich tributes to Shujaat Bukhari for his bravery, professionalism and commitment to peace. He said Bukhari had wanted a peaceful solution to the ongoing atrocities and militancy. Muhammad Tahseen (SAP-PK) and Allama Siddique Azhar were among others present.

Published in Dawn, June 20th, 2018