Rabbani says PTI govt, Pemra enemies of media freedom
Suspension of 24NewsHD enters into 55th day
As the suspension of 24NewsHD TV channel entered into 55th day, PPP leader and former Senate chairman Raza Rabbani on Thursday said the incumbent PTI government and PEMRA were the enemies of media freedom.
Rabbani, who was addressing the participants of a protest outside the National Press Club in Islamabad, said the government wasn’t ready to listen to the truth and had not learned any lesson from history.
“Journalists are being kidnapped and imprisoned today,” he noted, adding that media persons were being rendered jobless.
Speaking on the occasion, Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri of JUI-F described the PTI government as repressive but noted that such tactics had failed in the past and would fail in the future too. People enjoy to compete freedom of expression in a democracy, he added.
Hamid Mir, a senior journalist and TV anchor, said efforts were underway to make 24NewsHD, which has been shut down on satellite too two days back – a symbol of defeat. “The PEMRA is a hostage to the government,” he remarked.
Unemployment was on the rise in media and other sectors ever since Imran Khan assumed the office of prime minister, Mir noted.
The senior anchor warned the journalists that if 24NewsHD is shut down today then they would face their turn tomorrow.
Mir also noted, “They are wrong if the TV [channels] flattering the government think that the closure of a critic TV [channel] would benefit them.”
Stressing the need for all TV channels to stand by the journalists, he addressed Information Minister Shibli Faraz directly and said, “24NewsHD had been shut in the government of Mr Shibli Faraz.”
He warned that they would give sleepless nights to the government members if the channel was shut down permanently.
To prove his point that the PEMRA is a hostage to the government, he recalled a recent statement in which Shibli had stated that any TV channel showing PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif’s speech would be taken off the air.
24NewsHD, he added, had been taken off the air [from satellite] for the coverage of opposition and especially the rally held in Karachi on Sunday.
The Imran Khan government has changed the political dictionary, Mir remarked and added that anyone calling for reducing inflation was a traitor.
He said, “That’s why anyone called a traitor thanks for that. Today, the label of traitor has become a medal.”
Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists General Secretary Nasir Zaidi, Rawalpindi Islamabad Union of Journalists President Amir Sajjad Syed and others also attended the protest.
In his address, Zaidi said the suspension of 24NewsHD was a direct attack on media freedom.