Rabbani asks Alvi to remove ‘politically tinted eyeglasses’

PPP senator calls out president on ‘subjective’ concerns about media


Our Correspondent July 08, 2022

ISLAMABAD:

Senator Mian Raza Rabbani said on Friday that President Dr Arif Alvi’s concern for media freedom was “subjective”, asking him to not view matters through “politically tinted glasses”.

The former chairman Senate condemned the harassment of journalists before adding that "all Pakistani citizens are equal before law and the President of Pakistan has to view them as such".

The statement has come a day after Dr Arif Alvi wrote a letter to Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, conveying his deep concern on the rising trend of harassment and torture against journalists and media persons in Pakistan.

The president wrote to the premier after senior journalist and Express News anchorperson Imran Riaz Khan, the most vocal critic of the ruling coalition, was arrested from Islamabad Toll Plaza late on Tuesday, disregarding the fact that a court had already granted him a pre-arrest bail.

Calling for dialogue between "political stakeholders", Rabbani said that "the need of the hour is not suppression". He alleged that President Alvi had 'failed' in his capacity as the president because he "violated" his oath and was not objective.

The Senator also alleged that the president had violated his oath during the tenure of the PTI government and shared an excerpt from the oath to highlight his point: “That, in all circumstances, I will do right to all manner of people, according to law, without fear or favour, affection or ill-will."

According to the senior Pakistan Peoples Party leader the president did not take notice of media freedom violations when "more than 86 cases in one year i.e May, 2021 to April, 2022, were reported against the media and its practitioners" in an international report.

The Freedom Network report published in April, had revealed that the state actors continue to be the largest threat source for journalists in Pakistan in a period marked by a dramatic escalation of coercion by the erstwhile Imran Khan government resulting in murders, legal cases, assaults, abductions, detentions and threats.

The Senator argued that Alvi failed to "ask the Government to conduct prompt, impartial and effective investigations into the increasing incidents against the media", particularly in drawing the attention of the PTI government "on the murderous attacks on Asad Ali Toor, Absar Alam and Matiullah Jan, amongst others".

He also said that the president had not questioned "the [PTI] Government on suspension of or removal of anchors and working journalists, including Hamid Mir but not limited to him."

Rabbani also raised concerns about the previous government's alleged complacency over regulatory agencies blocking cable operators and TV channels as well as the "horrendous social media campaign against women journalists".

It is pertinent to note that on May 30, Islamabad High Court (IHC) Chief Justice Athar Minallah had remarked that state played no role in preventing the violations of fundamental rights and stressed that political leadership should come forward to address the real issues, beyond their personal differences.

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