Restrain activists from misbehaving with journalists

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KARACHI: Karachi Press Club (KPC) Secretary Amir Latif Wednesday dispatched a letter to Chairman Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Imran Khan, who holds life membership of the Karachi Press Club, requesting him to ask his supporters and activists to desist from misbehaving with the journalists who are covering their dharna

Imran Khan was given life membership of the KPC some 22 years back as a sports person. Latif humbly requested Imran Khan to personally apologies with the aggrieved journalists and TV channels’ staff members on the unpleasant incidents.

A copy of the letter available with The News, said, “May this find you all well. Here is the Secretary Karachi Press who is addressing a life member of the Karachi Press Club (KPC), Pakistan’s oldest and most prestigious body of journalists. You are associated with this club for the last 22 years, and the KPC members had been proud of having you as its life member.

You are the only politician who is the life member of the KPC, although you had not been granted the life membership in the capacity of a politician but as a sportsman.Khan Sahib, what we are getting from your part nowadays is not at all a matter of pride or respect for yourself and the members of this prestigious Press Club. The way your workers have been misbehaving and manhandling reporters and cameramen during the coverage of your “Azadi March” in Islamabad is not merely damaging your reputation of being a fair sportsman, but also earning a bad name to the KPC.

You have been time and again making promises that your party would uphold the freedom of expression.However, I am disheartened to mention that in practice what we are seeing, is a stark contradiction to your words. Your workers are not only misbehaving and beating up male journalists, they do not spare even female reporters. Three female reporters of Geo News, Rifat Javed, Amna Aamir, and Iffat Rizvi were mistreated and harassed by your workers on separate occasions while they were covering your sit-in two weeks ago. Similarly, Aaj TV reporter, Nasir Kazmi, cameramen Mohammad Iqbal, Usman Gujjar, and other technical staff, Waqt TV reporter, Sajid Shah and cameraman, Atif Yousaf were beaten up and harassed by your workers on different occasion in last three weeks.

Scores of your supporters have been pelting stones at the building of Geo News Islamabad every day for over last one week. They smash vehicles parked outside the building, and hurl abuses on the staff.

I could have absolved you of this charge if these ugly incidents had taken place once or even twice. But, since it has become a routine affair, and you have neither prevented your followers from carrying out this hooliganism, nor condemned it, I am constrained to say that it is with your connivance that journalists are being harassed and media houses attacked.

Khan Sahib, let me tell you that it will not work. Such practices in the past, you may or may not be aware of them, have not benefited the culprits. The religious and political parties that had unleashed similar reign of terror against media in the past, had all finally surrendered. They only damaged their own reputation. Respecting voices of dissent is part of all civilized societies.

Khan Sahib, please do not let us down. You have a great following. Even various KPC members have a soft corner for you and your policies and they plead your case. But, the way your workers are portraying themselves, and consequently the PTI, it makes the journalists believe that there would be no place for dissenting voices in your “New Pakistan”.

Khan Sahib, we have nothing to do with your political ventures. It’s between you and the government. Our concern is how to protect the honour and the legacy of the KPC. We expect from a person of high esteem and calibre like you, not to let down the image and reputation of the KPC. We also expect that you would immediately ask your workers to show restrain, and refrain from attacking journalists and media houses.

Khan Sahib, it was very easy for us to set up a protest camp right in front of your sit-in to tell the world how your party is treating journalists. But we believe and expect that you will pay heed to our protest, in the interest of freedom of expression and the prestige of Karachi Press Club. We stand alongside constitution, and democracy, and are sure so do you and your party.

I am sure you will ask your workers to desist from attacking journalists and offices of TV channels that do not buy what you say because this is their fundamental right. I also expect from you to personally call the aggrieved reporters and cameramen and apologise on these unpleasant incidents”.

The News

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