FIA raid an attempt to stifle freedom of expression: PTI leader

By our correspondent

ISLAMABAD: Abdul Hafeez Khan, the vice chairman of Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI), on Friday, condemned the raid of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) at the offices of Jang Group of newspapers.

In a statement issued from the Central Secretariat, Abdul Hafeez Khan termed the raid as a vindictive act against the Jang Group. But, he was confident that the present rulers could not stifle the freedom of the journalism through such a blatant attack on the offices of the Jang Group. He also assured that the PTI would resist such actions against the newspapers in the guise of tax evasion.

Hafeez Khan, who is also the Chief Organiser of the Party, censured the policies of the present rulers and said that there was a legal process through which the tax department officials could have obtained or asked the department for the tax record instead of raiding through FIA.

"Obviously the incident speaks itself the victimisation of the government against the Jang Group in retaliation of publishing news regarding the corruption of rulers," he alleged Condemning the government's point of view against the press, he said, that the tax department had to get the record pertaining to alleged misappropriation of Jang Group in 1992 which revealed that the rulers had no proper proof against the very institution.

"In order to victimise the Jang Group, the rulers are not only harassing the management of the organisation but also pressurising the Mirs to sack certain journalists including one of the most competent Editors of the Jang Group, Dr Maleeha Lodhi," he alleged.

Hafeez Khan was of the view that the International Committee to Protect Journalists had rightly protested against Nawaz Sharif government's strong arm tactics to muzzle the Jang Group. Reportedly, he alleged, the henchman of Nawaz Sharif government, Senator Saifur Rehman pressed the Jang group to bow its knees before the rulers.

He said the government should better understand that it would not succeed in suffocating the freedom of expression in the motherland by adopting such measures. About the explanation by government officials on the pretext of investigation for tax evasion, he said, the act evidently was an intention to threaten the group which had the courage to reprint the London Observer scandal about the Sharif family's default on a loan. "Ironically the prime minister who is one of the richest men in Pakistan, is known to pay a little tax on his vast wealth and fiefdom," he alleged.

The News International Pakistan