ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) has described the statement of former prime minister Imran Khan claiming that he did not have any hand in stifling the media as against facts and reality.

In a statement issued on Sunday, PFUJ President Shahzada Zulfiqar and Secretary General Nasir Zaidi said Mr Khan’s tenure would go down in the history of Pakistani media as one of the darkest chapters.

The two leaders said that under Mr Khan’s rule, journalists were beaten up, assassination attempts were made on critical journalists and several anchors lost their jobs for merely criticising the regime, which financially strangulated the media industry by stopping their ads and withholding ad dues.

Mr Zulfiqar and Mr Zaidi observed that media persons were also implicated in fake cases and the editor in chief of Jang Group, Mir Shakilur Rahman, was imprisoned for several months on trumped-up charges.

“If the memory of the former prime minister is not strong enough to remember the incidents that happened during his tenure, we would like to remind him that Matiullah Jan was abducted in broad daylight, senior journalist Absar Alam was shot at by unknown attackers, armed men entered the residence of Asad Toor beating him up brutally besides hurling threats at him and character assassination campaigns of anchor Asma Shirazi, Gharida Farouqi and other female media persons were also a routine during his tenure,” they said.

They also observed that it was not only attacks that were carried out against journalists, but the government of Imran Khan also tried to amend the Pakistan Electronic Crimes Act, which was challenged in court and the government had to face embarrassment.

Mr Khan’s administration also tried to establish the Pakistan Media Development Authority to stifle all critical voices and create problems for the media industry, but it could not succeed because of the heroic struggle of the media community, they said.

Therefore, Mr Khan could not exonerate himself from all the draconian steps that were taken against the media and journalists right under his nose, the two leaders concluded.

They observed that this was all in the knowledge of Imran Khan and his ministers, who defended curbs on the media claiming that controlling the media was important.

The PFUJ leaders said Mr Khan could not claim innocence by distorting facts and hiding reality.

“He should rather reflect upon the attitude of PTI workers towards media persons and make efforts to rein in his supporters who are still carrying out a lethal propaganda against journalists,” they said.

Published in Dawn, July 18th, 2022

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