ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) on Wednesday suspended the membership of its leader from Sindh and issued him a show-cause notice for physically assaulting a senior journalist during a TV talk show.

The notice was issued to Masroor Ali Sial after a video clip showing him entering into an argument with Karachi Press Club (KPC) president Imtiaz Khan Faran during the recording of a talk show and then attacking him went viral on social media.

The video shows Mr Sial sitting next to Mr Faran engaging in an argument with the latter, standing up in anger, shoving him off from his seat and physically assaulting him. The physical showdown came to an end only after the channel’s officials intervened.

The notice issued by PTI’s central secretary general Arshad Dad reads: “Your behaviour has badly damaged the reputation of the party and created uproar in the journalist community. You are hereby given a show-cause notice to explain your position within 14 days of issuance of this letter, as to why action should not be taken against you in line with the party constitution.”

Mr Sial’s party membership has also been suspended with immediate effect till further orders.

Prime Minister’s Special Assistant on Political Affairs Naeemul Haque in a tweet condemned the “violent reaction” of Mr Sial, saying: “This kind of behaviour is unacceptable in PTI and is totally unworthy of a PTI leader.”

Meanwhile, the Karachi, Islamabad and Lahore press clubs have placed a temporary ban on the entry of PTI leaders to their premises following the assault, while expressing concern over the rising incidents of violence against journalists.

The KPC governing body had strongly condemned and expressed concern over the incident at an emergency meeting held at the club on Tuesday. Members of the body wore black armbands in protest against the “violence” carried out by the PTI leader.

“The meeting felt that the series of incidents of organised violence against journalists and journalist bodies on the part of the PTI proves that all of this is being done according to a well-thought out policy,” a KPC press release had said.

The meeting decided to ban the entry of all PTI office-bearers in the KPC for three days. According to the handout, if the ruling party during these three days does not revoke the membership of Mr Sial and fails to apologise to Mr Faran, the KPC will announce a strategy for protest against the PTI in consultation with other journalist bodies.

Following the KPC meeting, Islamabad Press Club president Shakeel Qarar and the Lahore Press Club also placed a ban on the entry of PTI leaders to the premises of the two press clubs for three days.

Published in Dawn, June 27th, 2019