Investigation into Arshad Sharif’s murder under UN body demanded

Published May 4, 2023
Mediapersons stage a rally outside the National Press Club in Islamabad on the occasion of World Press Freedom Day on Wednesday. — Photo by Tanveer Shahzad
Mediapersons stage a rally outside the National Press Club in Islamabad on the occasion of World Press Freedom Day on Wednesday. — Photo by Tanveer Shahzad

ISLAMABAD: Speakers at a seminar on Wednesday brought forward diversified views from politicians and mediapersons over freedom of expression, with Federal Minister Mian Javed Latif calling on journalists to remain politically neutral.

This point, however, was disputed mostly by those active on social media.

Speakers at the seminar held on the occasion of World Press Freedom Day at the National Press Club demanded that the killers of journalist Arshad Sharif be arrested and that investigation into his murder be conducted by the United Nations’ fact-finding mission.

Among the speakers was Mian Javed Latif who is also the National Assembly Standing Committee on Information chairperson, who, without naming anyone, said: “Should journalists give speeches at meetings of political parties; those who do become controversial.”

He said he took notice of the incidents of attacks on journalists and called all relevant government departments to the standing committee meetings.

In order to move forward, “we have to admit our mistakes,” Mian Javed Latif said, adding that soon after Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif came back from a foreign visit, the demand for Arshad Sharif’s murder investigation under the United Nations commission would be placed before him.

PFUJ President Afzal Butt, Secretary General Arshad Ansari, Finance Secretary Lala Asad Pathan, senior journalists and anchors participated in the seminar, and called for creating unity and consensus among journalists.

Former PFUJ secretary general Nasir Zaidi said the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act (PECA) was tantamount to ‘media martial law’ introduced by former minister Anusha Rehman during the PML-N era.

Under the law, the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) was empowered to summon any journalist by giving a notice, Mr Zaidi said, adding that a number of cases were lodged during the tenure of former prime minister Imran Khan.

Speaking on the occasion, Arshad Sharif’s widow, Javeria Siddique said the establishment could get cases filed against anyone by branding them traitors. “Why did Arshad Sharif leave Pakistan,” she added.

Later, a protest march was held outside the National Press Club in support of press freedom.

Call to withdraw cases against journalists

Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists-Workers (PFUJ-Workers) has called on the government to withdraw cases against journalists and get the Journalist Protection Bill approved from the parliament.

In a joint statement, PFUJ-Workers President Pervaiz Shaukat, Secretary General Shahid Ali, Senior Vice President Bakht Gir Chaudhry, vice president Tahir Rathore, Rawalpindi-Islamabad Union of Journalists-Workers President Yasir Shahzad Sheikh and General Secretary Obaid Ibrar said the government should ensure complete implementation of laws concerning press freedom.

They asked the government to play its role in getting salaries of journalists released and ensure that the wage board award was enforced in all media organisations.

The statement said the PFUJ-Workers and its affiliated groups were ready to launch a joint struggle with other journalists’ groups for the welfare of mediapersons facing financial problems.

Published in Dawn, May 4th, 2023

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