Opposition to launch agitation for press freedom

By Javed Jaidi

ISLAMABAD: Five-party opposition parliamentary alliance on Monday announced a forceful mass contact campaign to launch a countrywide agitation to protect the freedom of the press. The decision was taken in an emergency meeting of the opposition held at Parliament building with Senator Aitzaz Ahsan in the chair and was attended by the legislators of PPP, ANP, BNM, BNP and PKMAP.

All the legislators were asked to apprise the masses in their respective provinces about the high-handedness of the government against free press of the country. The meeting pledged that the opposition would give every possible sacrifice to save the press from the government's oppression.

The meeting vehemently condemned threats of intimidation to Dr Maleeha Lodhi, Editor The News, and the leaders of Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists and expressed full solidarity with them.

The legislators observed that harassment of leading figures of the national press was reflective of the shallow approach of the rulers. The issue of ban on newsprint of Jang Group was also taken up by the participants and they demanded the government to avoid taking such steps.

The parliamentary meeting also condemned attack on the offices of the daily Parcham and Aman Karachi, Khyber Mail Peshawar and Javed Press. The opposition senators were of the view that the government's anarchist actions would prove dangerous to the integrity of the state.

Izhar Amrohvi, parliamentary secretary of the opposition, while briefing the press about the contents of the meeting said that promulgation of ordinance about military courts on January 30 was against the essence of the Constitution. He said opposition believes that establishment of parallel justice system and handing over of justice system to military in the presence of civil courts was an insult to judiciary.

The meeting was told that superior courts of the country had given verdict against the military courts in 1977, he added. The parliamentarians observed with concern that the government had promulgated the ordinance about military courts only two days before the hearing of petition on the issue by the Supreme Court of Pakistan and a time when Senate was in session.

The News International Pakistan