LONDON: Britain’s Minister for Justice and Civil Liberties Simon Hughes MP has said that the assassination attempt on Geo anchor Hamid Mir’s life is “doubly unacceptable” because Hamid Mir has done his job as a critical journalist.
Speaking to The News here, the Liberal Democrats leader said that any individual being attacked in unacceptable but Hamid Mir’s case is important because it highlights threats to investigative journalists in Pakistan and other South Asian countries. The veteran politician said: “One of the basis premises of a civilised society is that people have freedom of expression and with this it’s not just the people’s ability to speak and write and practise your faith but it’s also the freedom for journalists to write and speak and to broadcast.”
He condemned attack on Hamid Mir and said that it was shocking that a journalist of Hamid Mir’s stature was attacked. “I strongly condemn the attack on Hamid Mir. It’s unacceptable on any individual.
It’s doubly unacceptable in the political sense if the person is doing his job as a critical journalist like Hamid Mir. Politicians and governments don’t like being criticised but that’s no excuse for anyone to take law into their own hands and try to repress that criticism. The laws are there to make sure that people can speak freely, provided that they are respectful of other people’s faith and liberty. I hope the message is loud and clear. What happened is unacceptable and attack on Hamid Mir is regarded with great disfavour in the United Kingdom.”
He regretted that journalists and free media don’t have protections in Pakistan. “It’s increasingly the case in Pakistan and other countries that journalism is under attack and journalists are under attack and the impression we get here is that there is increasing pursuit of critical journalism in Pakistan and many parts of South Asian.”
Simon Hughes said that Britain stood in solidarity with the Jang and Geo against the onslaught the media group has faced in many forms. “This solidarity is from the international community. We must make sure that message from our government in the UK to is clear that its unacceptable. we must make sure that judiciary are strengthened to understand that they must act and punish those who are brought before them and most importantly the law enforcement agencies – the police, the secret services, the prosecution services – must hand down and find the responsible people.”
He said attacking journalists was an unacceptable behaviour and it has to be met by a very strong response otherwise there can’t be a pretence that Pakistan or any other country is a place of freedom where people can speak freely.
The Liberal Democrats MP said that investigative journalists are often a problem for the government but that’s not an excuse for the government to prevent them from going out and its very important in all countries that the press is free and able to be critical of the govt collectively and individuals in govt in particular. He said that the media be held accountable if they tell the untruths but the accountability doesn’t mean anything which muzzles freedom of press. “I hope that message is loud and clear that a country like Pakistan which has a huge population, has leadership in the commonwealth in the Sub-continent, we look to countries like that to set an example for others to follow. There is no hope for other countries in Asia if countries like Pakistan don’t allow journalists to be free.”