Benazir asks world to decry reign of terror against press

By our correspondent

ISLAMABAD: Leader of Opposition Benazir Bhutto on Thursday appealed to world leaders including G-8 members and parliamentarians worlwide to decry Nawaz regime's repeated and unlawful reign of terror against Pakistan's independent media.

In an appeal in this regard, she sought an active and forthright intervention from the government of Pakistan to protect freedom of the press. In her letter to majority leader in the US Senate Trent Lott, she urged the US Senate leadership to "send a strong and unequivocal message from the Senate to the Nawaz government that American assistance, economic and military, will not be forthcoming to any regime that undermines the freedom of the fourth estate."

Ms Benazir said, "Silencing an independent and critical press is often the goal of those in power whose actions and deeds cannot withstand the light of the day. As the world's most recent nuclear power, it is even more important now that the international community not stand idly by as Prime Minister Sharif and his government try to return Pakistan to the dark days of dictatorship."

She accused the Nawaz government of seeking to push the people of Pakistan toward a dark past through the forced passage of the 15th constitutional amendment, the military tribunals in Sindh province, and calling for 'Taliban Justice' in Pakistan.

Benazir said the government of Pakistan has raided the offices of the Jang group, withheld government advertising, frozen bank accounts without due cause, wire-tapped editors and journalists who write critical articles of the government's policies, intimidation of contractors and vendors necessary for the publication of the newsprint and repeatedly used false allegation of tax fraud as an excuse to throw the owners of the paper into court, despite a lack of evidence. "Each act by the government directly followed publication by the Jang group articles critical of the Prime Minister and his family," she said in a letter.

The News International Pakistan