LAHORE: Human Rights Commission of Pakistan Secretary General Harris Khalique, Council of Pakistan Newspapers Editors President Arif Nizami, Pakistan Bar Council Vice President Abid Saqi, Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists Secretary General Nasir Zaidi and a large number of journalists, writers and rights defenders condemned the statement made by Punjab Information Minister Fayyazul Hassan Chohan.

They believe it is a malicious video statement where noted journalist and intellectual, the late Prof Waris Mir, is termed a traitor.

In a press release, these bodies demand the government check Chohan for his “irresponsible statement” against a person who was decorated with Hilal-i-Imtiaz, one of the highest civil awards conferred by the state of Pakistan, for his struggle and invaluable contribution to Pakistani journalism and the cause of democracy.

Mr Chohan gave this statement in response to a TV show hosted by Hamid Mir, Prof Waris Mir’s eldest son and a senior journalist.

Prof Mir died while fighting against the hegemonic stronghold of the Zia regime 33 years ago, and in appreciation of his scholarly work, the government of Pakistan had decorated him (posthumously) with the highest civil award of the country, the Hilal-i-Imtiaz, in 2013.

The government of Bangladesh had announced highest civil awards for Waris Mir, Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Habib Jalib, Malik Ghulam Jillani, Ghaus Bakhsh Bizenjo and other Pakistani intellectuals, in 2013.

It is this award, friends of Prof Mir say, the minister is spreading disinformation about, saying Waris Mir went to Bangladesh to accept it -- even though he had passed away long before the award was announced.

It is also pointed out that Prof Mir was not the only one to criticise the action in East Pakistan. Among others, military officers and political leaders, including the current prime minister, have wondered aloud and raised questions about the issue.

Published in Dawn, June 6th, 2020

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