KARACHI: A press conference scheduled at Karachi Press Club for Thursday to ‘demand justice for imprisoned political activist and intellectual Prof Dr Hasan Zafar Arif’ was cancelled at the eleventh hour.
Dr Riaz Ahmed of Karachi University, Asad Iqbal Butt, the vice-president for Sindh chapter of Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) and Prof Mehar Afroze Murad, an old friend of Prof Arif, had given the call for the press conference.
Dr Ahmed accused Butt of unilaterally cancelling the press conference without taking the other organisers on board. However, Butt said the Karachi Press Club management had asked him to cancel the conference since the speakers ‘would have said something anti-state or anti-Pakistan’.
“The Karachi Press Club asked me to give them the press release beforehand, to which Riaz [Ahmed] did not agree and the press conference had to be cancelled,” Butt said.
Prof Arif was picked up by the Rangers on October 22 last year from outside the Karachi Press Club where he had come to address a press conference in connection with the ongoing arrests of Muttahida Qaumi Movement workers in the metropolis. Since then, he has remained incarcerated.
Karachi Press Club Secretary Maqsood Yousufi told The Express Tribune that the club had not cancelled the press conference nor can it ask anyone to do so.
“No one asked us to give consent for the press conference in written form,” he claimed, adding that some office bearers of the press club had asked Butt to make sure that no one passed any anti-Pakistan remarks at the press club premises.
“Some activists of political parties have chanted anti-Pakistan remarks in the past, so we verbally ask them to avoid this in order to maintain press club decorum,” he said.
Yousufi reiterated that the doors of the Karachi Press Club are open for everyone and they cannot cancel a press conference.