Journalists of UK condemn threatening behavior from Political Parties

LONDON: Two leading unions of Pakistani journalists in the UK – Pakistan Journalists Association (PJA) and Pakistan Press Club (PPC) – have called on Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) leadership in Pakistan to publicly condemn and expel three activists who were involved in attacking a senior Pakistani journalist as well as others during a PTI demonstration outside Hasan Nawaz Sharif’s flat here.

Veteran journalist Ahmed Ali Syed, who works for a private television channel ARY NEWS from London, was attacked by Tariq Mahmood during the PTI demonstration and extremely vulgar language was used against the journalist as he reported back to his news channel about the estimated number of protestors in the demonstrations. Tariq Mahmood led the attack and later on he was joined by PTI senior PTI activist Faisal Khawaja in congratulating him on abusing the media. A third yet unnamed activist issued threats of physical assaults and abuses to this correspondent and media in general for defending Ahmed Ali Syed and for “being in the pay of Nawaz Sharif”.

Representatives of both unions gathered in West London and decided that the PTI leadership in Pakistan will be requested to look into the “matter of high concern” and “take a strict public action against the goons involved in openly issuing insults and threats to media workers”.

Media representatives said that PTI events in the UK will not be attended unless the party leadership takes a strict action against the three activists and publicly sanctions them for their actions. They said that it was alarming that the trend of attacking media has reached London which is known for democratic and tolerant values. Media workers agreed that attack on Ahmed Ali Syed was not an isolated incident because there was a pattern of violent behaviour against journalists at political events where the leadership simply “distances” itself from the activists blaming others, refusing to take responsibility. They said that eye-witness account and video footage showed that the attackers had support of their colleagues who shouted abuse at media while the protest organisers looked helpless in reigning into them.

Journalists resolved that in future intolerant and abusive behaviour of no religious or political party will be tolerated and any group involved in harassment of media workers will be boycotted. Journalists said that it will be responsibility of the event organisers to arrange security of media and in the event of an attack on any journalist – whether verbal or physical – the concerned political party will be held responsible.

Those who attended the meeting included senior representatives from PJA and PPC namely Wajahat Ali Khan, Moebeen Chaudhary, Shaukat Dar, Ahmed Ali Syed, Fayaz Ghaffur, Atta-ul-Haq, Nasim Siddiqui, Aamir Ghauri, Ghulam Hussain Awan, Inaam Sehgal, Wadood Mushtaq, Chaudhary Akram, Musarrat Iqbal, Waqar Zaidi and Irfan-ul-Haque.

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