Lawyers, bar association condemn attack on Geo, Jang

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KARACHI: Renowned lawyers and office bearers of different bar associations in Sindh, while expressing solidarity with the freedom of the press and the Jang Group, have termed the act of cable operators to shut down the Geo TV or putting it on last numbers ‘illegal and unethical’.

Prominent lawyer, constitutional expert and former judge of the Sindh High Court Justice (retd) Rasheed A Razvi condemned the act of cable operators of shutting down forcibly the country’s number one and most popular news channel Geo News and other channels of the group.

Razvi, while talking to this correspondent, was of the view that cable operators should not be allowed to decide about the closure, ranking and numbers of any TV channel. “They are just service providers, their role is just like the hawkers of newspapers and how can a hawker refuse to deliver a newspaper of our choice by saying that he does not agree with the policy of the paper?” he argued.

Rasheed Razvi urged the federal government to assert its authority and take action against the cable operators.

According to him, Geo and Jang Group had not crossed any legal or ethical limit. Razvi said the media was the fourth pillar of any state and in Pakistan the media had always remained at the forefront for the restoration of democracy and independence of the judiciary.He added the legal fraternity should also stand with the media as they stood with the lawyers community during the struggle for the independence of the judiciary.

President Sindh High Court Bar Association, Hyderabad, Nisar Ahmed Durrani, also termed the cable operators’ decision to put Geo on the last numbers and impose a self-appointed ban “against the law and principle”.

According to the Pemra rules, he said, cable operators are not allowed to push down or ban any TV channel.Durrani said that freedom of speech was guaranteed in the Constitution of Pakistan and all the institutions of the country, whether they liked it or not, came under the Constitution. “No institution is above the law. If anyone illegally or by force tries to curb press freedom by banning the Jang Group, the legal fraternity of Sindh will stand with the media and the Jang Group.”

Durrani said the legal fraternity could launch a protest move like it did for the restoration of the judiciary in 2007. At that crucial time when illegal and unconstitutional actions were taken, the media remained firm and stood by the lawyers and this time the lawyers will be with the media.

President Karachi Bar Association (KBA) Barrister Salahuddin Ahmed said that freedom of the press was essential in a democratic society and no institution was above the law.He termed the cable operators’ act to push the Geo TV channel to the last numbers or ban it on their own unlawful and said the Jang Group should move a contempt of court application against these operators.

“No cable operator has the right to decide the ranking or closure of any TV channel,” he said. “Pemra should also take action against this illegal act.”Ahmed said that nobody had the right to put the stamp of being a traitor on anyone. “As far as I believe, all staff members of the Jang Group are patriotic.”

Salahuddin also criticised other media institutions for continuing to spew venom against Geo and Jang Group. “They should remember that this will not stop only at the Jang Group, as the undemocratic forces and anti-media forces, which are against the independence of the media and freedom of expression, will also ban their institutions someday. The journalist community should strengthen their own ranks.”

Lawyers of the Larkana Division pledged to launch a protest campaign if Geo TV was banned.President High Court Bar Association Asif Soomro said that journalists had dedicated their lives to a noble cause and many journalists had sacrificed their lives.

He said that Geo and Jang Group are the voice of the whole country and no restriction in this regard will be accepted.He said the attack on Hamid Mir was an attack on the freedom of expression.

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