ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) has expressed concern over remarks made by Federal Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry that some journalists staged attacks on themselves to strengthen their case for seeking political asylum abroad.
The minister had said in a television programme recently that “condemnation of attacks on journalists (by journalists or journalists’ organisations) is an international agenda”.
In a statement, PFUJ president Shahzada Zulfikar and secretary general Nasir Zaidi took exception to “the irresponsible” statement of Fawad Chaudhry, saying that the minister’s comments were apparently aimed at diverting the attention of national and global organisations that monitored press freedom and human rights situation in the country.
The two leaders noted that such statements tended to widen the gulf between the government and the media.
“This is a dangerous trend and brings bad name for the country,” the statement added.
Mr Zulfikar and Mr Zaidi said that instead of “taking shelter behind such statements”, the minister and the PTI-led government should take measures for arresting criminals involved in carrying out attacks on journalists and media workers.
“Such ill-conceived statements are not expected from an information minister who himself has been part of media as an anchor,” the PFUJ leaders said.
They reiterated that the PFUJ would continue to raise its voice against coercion of journalists by any state or non-state actor in order to preserve freedom of expression.
On his part, Fawad Chaudhry said the PFUJ had earlier made a statement on a “fake ordinance’ and now again they had lashed out at him “without bothering to hear my speech”.
He further said he would soon speak about a report on how social media had created a misperception about Pakistan.
Published in Dawn, July 2nd, 2021