ISLAMABAD: It is not Geo TV that failed in bringing a crowd of millions to Imran Khan’s rally in order to dislodge the PML-N government, yet its staff assigned to cover the PTI’s sit-in are being hounded, harassed and attacked by PTI workers.
This policy is in practice either with the tacit support or criminal negligence of the leadership that has also been breathing fire at Geo TV for not falling in line. Journalists and technical staff of the network have been attacked several times since the PTI rally landed in the federal capital.
As many as eight reporters, cameramen and drivers have been assaulted by the workers in two days alone. Azaz Syed, a star reporter of Geo TV, was abused; his mike was snatched on Friday when he was about to go on air from the rally venue in order to report on the situation on ground and on the number of people in attendance. Meanwhile, a mob of the ‘change agents’ encircled him and forced him out of the venue. His crime: he works for Geo TV.
Arshad Waheed, a senior reporter of the network, came under attack the same day. He was not alone. A woman reporter, Farhat Jabeen, accompanied him in addition to a driver of the Digital Satellite News Gathering (DSNG) van. Instead of taking the risk of reporting from the place occupied by the PTI, they approached Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) Chief Minister Pervaiz Khattack who was present there. He gave a go-ahead and assigned one of his ministers to help them out.
All security precautions turned out to be a futile exercise when a mob of PTI workers surrounded them. The presence of a KP minister, Amin Gandapur, failed to ease the situation. Shaken by the presence of this crowd that was striking the DSNG van with kicks and batons, the Geo TV staffers locked the doors.
Meanwhile, they were warned to leave the place within ten minutes as the van would otherwise be set on fire. Their crime: they are employees of Geo TV.
On Saturday again, Arshad found himself in an awkward situation as he risked reporting from the PTI venue. A group of workers was about to attack him and the cameraman when two men present there advised them to vanish into the nearby forest to escape the wrath of PTI supporters.
Arshad didn’t lose heart. He approached a group of four party leaders present nearby: Asad Umar, Shireen Mazari, Shafqat Mehmood and Arif Alvi. He appealed to them to urge the workers to stop attacking and harassing Geo TV staffers. His words fell on deaf ears. Arshad kept waiting for some time and reminded them again. Only then, Shireen Mazari made an announcement appealing to the workers not to harass media persons. She stopped short of naming Geo TV, their only target.
The same day, another Geo TV journalist, Saif-ur-Rehman, came under attack by the PTI workers who identified him by the mike carrying the logo of the network. He had to flee the scene to save his life. Shabbir Ahmed, a cameraman of Geo TV, had his camera broken by PTI’s miscreants. Another cameraman, Khurram Shehzad, was beaten and his evo device was broken. Their crime: being staffers of Geo TV.
After these attacks by PTI workers on Geo TV workers, Imran Khan during his Saturday night’s speech severely attacked the management of the Geo and Jang Group affiliated newspapers including Jang and The News saying that “you are making propaganda against me and saving Nawaz Sharif but you will not be able to save him.”
However, the fact is that whatever is being published in the newspapers of the Jang Group is filed by working journalists and these reports also carried the viewpoint of the PTI. Imran intentionally does not name journalists while making his allegations.
If they have any complaint against the reports it is their right to inform the Jang Group about it. If the Group responsible do not listen to them, they can approach the Council of Complaints or the courts but they do not adopt this method because they know that their complaints and allegations have no substance.
The Jang Group has already approached the courts against the allegations levelled by Imran earlier.
In the past, successive rulers had made similar allegations after they failed to control the Jang Group policy of showing them the mirror through the fact-based reports of its journalists. Imran, however, crossed all limits and used uncivilised language while levelling allegations.
He was upset over the poor show of the PTI in its ongoing ‘million march’ but blamed Geo TV for bringing the truth to the public. The tone set by him goes down to the workers level.
Imran’s caravan came under attack in Gujranwala on Friday as clashes erupted between PTI and PML-N workers. He demanded an FIR against Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif for allegedly directing this attack. Going by his argument, can we say that the PTI workers attacking journalists enjoy the blessing of the leadership that did not bother to condemn them, let alone taking any action?
Asim Yasin adds: PTI chief Imran Khan’s remarks against the Jang Group are seemingly tantamount to instigate his charged workers against the Jang Group, putting the lives of its workers and reporters who are covering his Dharna (sit- in).
The allegations were made against the Group in a charged atmosphere and PTI workers already charged against the fact-based coverage of the event by the Jang Group.
Last Friday night, PTI workers had already terrorised and misbehaved with the Geo News team that comprised reporters, cameramen and technical staff and even in the day misbehaved with the other reporters of Geo News who were covering the event.
Now with the latest hate campaign against the Jang Group while addressing the charged rally, PTI chief Imran Khan has further instigated his workers who have already given threats to the workers of the Jang and Geo Group.