ANP stages protest against curbs on media


by Riffatullah

PESHAWAR: Awami National Party (ANP) leaders on Wednesday rejected curbs on media, accusing the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) of pursuing the police of censorship.

An ANP protest rally held outside the Peshawar Press Club was participated in by scores of party workers from parts of the province and journalists gathered outside the Peshawar Press Club.

ANP Central Secretary-General Mian Iftikhar Hussain, provincial President Aimal Wali Khan, provincial General Secretary Sardar Hussain Babak, senior leader Ghulam Ahmad Bilour and other leaders were present. Khyber Union of Journalist (KhUJ) President Fida Khattak and journalist Arif Yousafzai also addressed. The ANP workers were holding placards inscribed with slogans demanding freedom of press and expression. Mian Iftikhar Hussain said that three major media groups in the country were almost destroyed and favourite anchorpersons were installed at the media houses. He said that these installed anchor persons had started certain propaganda while genuine journalists were forced out of the profession. He alleged that publishers and owners of television channels were forced into submission through advertisement blackmailing.

He said the journalists should be allowed to visit North Waziristan to report the ground situation. He also demanded punishment to those involved in the Khar Qamar firing incident. He condemned National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser’s failure to issue production orders of the two lawmakers from North and South Waziristan. The ANP leader said that lives of his party candidates contesting election from the merged districts were in danger. “ANP candidate Haroon Bilour was martyred during the general election campaign in Peshawar and now Maulana Gul Dad was targeted in Bajaur,” he said.

He said the ECP had announced deploying security personnel inside the polling stations, adding these were tactics for stealing the mandate. Aimal Wali Khan said that media freedom was required for protecting the interest of the minority ethnic groups. However, he said, media had been made hostage. “Billions of rupees are being spent to promote censorship in the country,” he alleged. He said that journalism, parliament and judiciary were enslaved in the country. He said that the ANP protest was the first step and warned the government of launching a movement if it did not stop its excesses. Sardar Hussain Babak said journalism under pressure was not acceptable. He said all should work closely to save the dying journalism in the country. He said only free media could save Pakistan as the fourth pillar of the state guaranteed strong democracy in the country. He said the media that could not raise the issues of the masses was not acceptable to the people. Ghulam Ahmad Bilour said that media had always ignored theh ANP but his party had always supported it when it faced restrictions from the government. He said the PTI government had destroyed every sector in the country. KhUJ President Fida Khattak criticized the government for imposing unnecessary restrictions on media in the country. He asked the government to avoid creating problems for journalists as gagging media would not serve any purpose.COURTESY THE NEWS