ISLAMABAD: Journalists throughout the country continued their protest Sunday against shutting down of Geo TV and ARY Digital as well as curbs on the media.
Hundreds of journalists, members of civil society, students, political workers and human rights activists gathered in Islamabad and chanted slogans against the ban on the TV channels. Addressing the protest rally the speakers condemned the government for asking the managements of the two channels to sack prominent and respected journalists.
Pakistani networks Geo TV and ARY Digital were ordered by the authorities to halt transmission from the United Arab Emirates after they refused to sign a Pakistani government-mandated “code of conduct.”
Geo TV was ordered by the UAE Information Ministry in Dubai to cease satellite and Internet broadcasts by midnight local time on Friday, according to Geo TV officials. The other channel also received a similar order with no reason given for the shutdown.
The demonstrators wore black bands and held banners and placards inscribed with slogans for free media and against the ban on TV channels. They also condemned the kidnapping of Shoaib Bhutta, a local journnalist and accused the agencies of kidnapping him. The demonstrators also raised slogans against General Musharraf.
A large number of riot police were deployed near the demonstrators but they did not intervene. Geo TV and ARY Digital were the only networks that had not returned to cable distribution in Pakistan since the shutdown of all private broadcasters on November 3 after President Pervez Musharraf suspended the constitution and imposed emergency. The news channels, however, had remained accessible in Pakistan via Internet or satellite before Friday’s blackout.
The networks had been told to sign the 14-page code of conduct by the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority if they wanted to resume transmission. Geo TV and ARY Digital refused to sign. The agreement bypasses due process if stations violate government regulations.
Journalists condemned the murder of the widow of a slain tribal journalist who was killed in a bomb attack in the tribal region of North Waziristan on Saturday. Mehr-un-Nisa, the widow of Hayatullah Khan, was killed when a bomb planted at her house wall exploded.
The journalists set up protest camps outside press clubs in major cities and towns and also staged demonstrations. Lahore, meanwhile, witnessed people belonging to different walks of life coming to a protest camp set up in front of the Geo office to express their solidarity with the protesting journalists. They lit candles there, demanding immediate removal of ban on Geo transmission.
BAHAWALPUR: Journalists on Sunday staged a demonstration outside the Bahawalpur Press Club to protest closure of Geo and ARY channels’ transmissions. They chanted slogans against the curbs on media, imposition of emergency and arrest of lawyers and journalists. The Bahawalpur Union of Journalists (BUJ) and Media Action Committee held a protest meeting at the press club. Speaking on the occasion, BUJ President Ameen Abbasi announced that journalists would also stage a protest demonstration today (Monday).
KASUR: Newsmen held a demonstration on Circular Road to protest the shutdown of Geo and ARY transmissions.
The demonstration was led by senior journalist M Saleemur Rahman. Addressing the demonstrators, Nawaz Karimi, Dr Zakir Hussain, Jamil Hussain, Fazal Hussain Bhutta, Malik Arif, Ishfaq Ahmad Bhatti and Dr Usman Ghani demanded of the government to restore the channels.
TOBA TEK SINGH: On the call of the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists media persons demonstrated outside the press club on Sunday. They chanted slogans against the closure of Geo and ARY channels by President Gen Pervez Musharraf. Later, they held a protest meeting at the press club.
Speaking on the occasion, press club President Mian Manzoor Naz, General Secretary Tariq Saeed, Muttahidda Majlis-e-Amal district general secretary Mian Abdul Basit advocate, Pakistan People’s Party leader Chaudhry Masood Ahmad Kahloon, former DBA president Mian Shahid Iqbal, Dr Saleem Ghazi, Haji Abdul Majeed Anwar, Mian Ehsanul Haq Burki and Kamalia press club president Rana Amjad asked the government to lift curbs on the print and electronic media. They also demanded lifting of emergency.
CHAKWAL: The Divisional Union of Journalists and Chakwal Press Club, in a joint meeting here on Sunday, condemned the shutdown of Geo and ARY transmissions.
The meeting was presided over by Chakwal Press club chairman Fahim Akhtar Butt. The meeting passed a resolution, demanding immediate restoration of the news channels.
Speaking on the occasion, Fakhir Mehmood Mirza, Tahir Farooqi, Nasir Qamar, Muhammad Khan Aqal and Zulfiqar Mir announced setting up of a hunger strike camp at the press club. They said the draconian law imposed during the emergency against the media was a clear negation of the constitution of the country. They said the blackout of TV channels had exposed the hollowness of the claims of ‘unprecedented freedom’ given to media.
SHEIKHUPURA: The press club in its meeting here on Sunday condemned the government restrictions on private TV channels.
The meeting was presided over by press club president Abdul Hammed Bhatti. It passed a resolution asking the international media to come forward to condemn curbs on media. The journalists agreed to set up a hunger strike camp in front of the local press club till the restoration of news channels.
Press club general secretary Safdar Shaheen, Sultan Hameed Rahi, Arshad Sheikh, Ghulam Ahmad, Imran Maqbool, Rana Ashraf, Rana Sarwar, Sheikh Jamil, Zhahid Mehmood, Malik Tariq Aziz, Sohail Ahad, Maqbool Ahmad, Azeem Yazdani, Amjad Nazir Butt and others attended the meeting.
OKARA: Journalists of the city will set up a hunger strike camp outside the press club today (Monday).
Local politicians and representatives of civil organisations will join the camp to express solidarity with journalists.
GOJRA: Journalists, lawyers and politicians have condemned the shutdown of Geo and ARY transmissions.
In their separate statements here on Sunday, Abid Chaudhry, Arshad Nasir, Muhammad Tayyab, Mian Iftikhar Umair, Malik Nazir, Syed Mohsin Raza, Rana Imtiaz, Iqbal Khan, Khursheed Athar, Dr Ijaz, Shaheen Chaudhry advocate, Ghulam Muhammad Lala, former MNA M Hamza and Muhammad Ishaq demanded immediate restoration of TV channels.
PHOOLNAGAR: Journalists on Sunday staged a rally against the closure of Geo and ARY transmissions.
Press club president Ch Zafar Iqbal led the rally. The protesting journalists wore black armbands and chanted slogans against President Gen Pervez Musharraf.
MIRPUR (AJK): Journalists affiliated with national print and electric media here on Sunday staged protest demonstration against the imposition of restrictions on the electronic media in Pakistan including shutting down of Geo and ARY TV channels by the government.
Senior journalists including the press club President Amin Butt, Sayed Abid Hussain Shah, Asjad Shah, Sohrab Ahmed Khan and other office bearers of the press club led the rally arranged by the Kashmir Press Club, Mirpur.
The journalists passed through the city streets raising slogans against sanctions imposed on the electronic media, imposition of emergency and provisional constitutional ordinance (PCO), confinement of the chief justice and other judges of the Supreme Court of Pakistan and arrest of hundreds of journalists and political and human rights activists.
Lahore: People belonging to different walks of life coming to a protest camp set up in front of the Geo office to express their solidarity with the protesting journalists. They lit candles there, demanding immediate removal of ban on Geo transmission.