Jang Group: opposition slams federal govt in Balochistan PA

By our correspondent

QUETTA: The opposition benches in the Balochistan Assembly on Thursday severely criticised the federal government for taking 'illegal' actions against Jang Group of Newspapers, saying that the actions would cause irreparable loss to democracy and undermine the freedom of the press in the country. Speaker Mir Abdul Jabbar was in the chair.

During 'zero half hour' in the Balochistan Assembly, JWP legislator Mir Asim Kurd alias Gaillu drew attention of the House towards a memorandum, which was presented by hawkers, and in which they (hawkers) had strongly condemned the 'illegal' and 'unconstitutional' actions of the federal government against the Jang Group of Newspapers.

Asim Kurd said: "More than 1,20,000 hawkers are earning their livelihood by selling newspapers of the Jang Group in the province. They are demanding of the government to save their employment, otherwise it will increase unemployment in the province."

The PMAP's Abdul Rahim Khan Mandokhel regretted that the police and other law-enforcement agencies had cordoned off the Jang Group offices in Karachi, Lahore and Rawalpindi, and impounded trucks loaded with newsprint. The government should not violate the clear orders of the Supreme Court to release the Jang Group's newsprint, he added.

Abdul Rahim Mandokhel said that in fact the government had attempted to muzzle the voice of the press by deploying heavy contingents of police and law-enforcement agencies personnel outside the Jang Group offices. Despite dire need of newsprint and clear orders of the Supreme Court, the Ehtesab Bureau and the FIA did not allow the Jang Group to get their newsprint, he deplored.

The PMAP leader observed that the newspapers were being punished for not taking the government's dictates. He said the Jang Group did not violate the Constitution, rather it was playing its role as the fourth pillar of the state.

Balochistan Minister of Home and Tribal Affair Shaikh Jaffar Khan Mandokhel supported the federal government, saying the Jang Group should pay its taxes. He refuted that the federal government wanted to demolish the fourth pillar of the state. "The government is fully aware of its responsibilities regarding the freedom of the press," he added.

The minister, however, assured that if the Jang Group was being victimised, then the provincial government would approach the PML high command in this regard. Speaker Balochistan Assembly Mir Abdul Jabbar said that the talks between the government and the Jang Group of Newspapers were in progress. He hoped that the matter would be resolved shortly.

Responding to another question of the PMAP's Sardar Mustafa Khan Tareen, Jaffar Khan Mandokhel said that some MPAs, bureaucrats and traders were involved in backing smugglers of wheat and flour. He said the Balochistan government had decided to withdraw the deputy commissioners' powers to issue special permits of wheat and flour so as to curb their smuggling across the border.

The News International Pakistan