KARACHI: Journalists marched from Karachi Press Club to Governor House on Friday and staged a protest against trespassing of KPC by armed men of a security agency in plain clothes and vowed to “resist attempts to harass free media”.

Led by KPC president Ahmed Malik and secretary Maqsood Yousufi, the journalists carried placards and chanted slogans to deplore Thursday night’s incident in which armed men in plain clothes entered Karachi Press Club and harassed journalists.

According to a statement issued by the club’s office-bearers, the armed men entered KPC at 10:30pm, harassed journalists, searched different rooms, kitchen, the building’s upper floor and the sports hall. They forcibly made videos and took pictures with mobile cameras.

The incident drew indignation from the journalist fraternity. A large number of them attended a meeting at the club on Thursday and later marched to Governor House to lodge their protest.

Sindh Governor Imran Ismail met the club’s office-bearers and assured them of his support for a free media.

The Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists expressed concern over the incident and in a statement termed it an attempt to harass the media.

“Let the PFUJ make it clear to such elements that journalists cannot, and will not, be cowed down by such tactics aimed at controlling the media,” the statement quoted PFUJ President Afzal Butt and Secretary General Ayub Jan Sarhandi as saying. “If such elements or institutions think that journalists will back out from their struggle for a free media and the right to expression, they are sadly mistaken.”

The Sindh government has confirmed that the armed men who had intruded into the club were associated with a law enforcement agency, but it said the move was a result of “some misunderstanding”.

“An initial inquiry into the episode has revealed that the law enforcers went there [Karachi Press Club] due to some technical problems with their GSM locator. It all happened due to some misunderstanding,” Murtaza Wahab, adviser to the Sindh chief minister on information, said in a statement on Friday.

Dr Amir Ahmed Shaikh, the Karachi police chief, told Dawn that he had ordered an inquiry into the incident and assigned South SSP Pir Muhammed Shah for the job. The SSP has already visited the KPC and met its office-bearers, he added.

“The senior police officer informed the office-bearers of the KPC about the actual situation and the journalists were satisfied with the version given to them by police,” said the city police chief.

According to sources, police personnel belonging to the Counter-Terrorism Department were trying to trace and arrest a “high value target” with the help of a GSM locator as the suspect’s mobile phone was hooked to it. Later the law enforcers found the suspect at a home near the KPC, the sources told Dawn.

Published in Dawn, November 10th, 2018

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