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KARACHI, March 13: All political outfits particularly the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) should recognise the right to freedom of expression of others and must avoid harassing and torturing people who try to record their protests in front of the Karachi Press Club.

A number of such observations were made during a protest meeting against the manhandling of journalists who were covering a protest demonstration organised by the Mohajir Qaumi Movement (Haqiqi) outside the KPC on March 12. The meeting was organised by the Karachi Union of Journalists (KUJ).

KUJ president Khurshid Tanvir strongly condemned the incident. Criticising the role of Rangers and police, he said that personnel of security forces remained present almost all the day along around the KPC but on March 12 they utterly failed to control the situation. Mr Tanvir said that the incident was a continuity of the present government’s atrocities against journalists and political opponents. He urged the Sindh government to arrest those responsible for the violent incident.

KPC president Najeeb Ahmed said that violence against journalists had hurt the feelings of the entire journalist fraternity. He recalled that senior journalist and editor of Weekly Takbeer, Salahuddin, and others were killed by a ‘political mafia’, adding that “were not afraid and would continue our struggle for the rights of the oppressed people and for the freedom of press”.

The former president of the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ), Mr Irfan, said that the journalist community had no affiliation with any specific political party and could not be intimidated by such tactics.

Senior journalist Abdul Hameed Chhapra said that the KPC was a place of peace and Muttahida could not succeed in using journalists for its vested interests.

Laeeq Yousuf Zai said that he went out of the KPC to speak to those who were against manhandling the journalists, instead they tried to kidnap him. He said they kidnapped a journalist who later was released at Regal Chowk after being tortured.

KPC vice-president Saeed Sarbazi said that a committee should be formed to review all aspects of the incident. TV Journalists’ Association president Faisal Aziz also insisted on the formation of the committee.

Yousaf Khan said that this violence was an attack on the freedom of the press. He said that journalists would take to the streets if no action was taken against the accused.—PPI