LAHORE: Newspaper editors have condemned a robbery at a journalist’s house, allegedly carried out by the intelligence agencies, and urged an investigation into the incident. Sirmed Manzoor, the chief coordinator of the South Asian Free Media Association (SAFMA), said at a seminar held at SAFMA that his computers and passports had been stolen. He said he believed that intelligence agencies were behind the robbery.
Speakers urged the media to pay greater attention to incidents in which the intelligence agencies were accused of harassing journalists or other citizens. Najam Sethi, the editor of The Friday Times, criticised the government for doing nothing in Manzoor’s case. “If the agencies think they can keep us quiet it’s wishful thinking,” he said. Sethi said the influence of the agencies could be gauged by the fact that the Supreme Court had made minimal progress in securing the release of missing Baloch people believed to be secretly detained by the intelligence agencies. Khalid Chaudhry, the editor of Urdu daily Aaj Kal, said that media houses were guilty of propagating the establishment’s views on security and foreign affairs issues rather than building an independent, unbiased view. Arif Nizami, the publisher of Pakistan Today, said the media ignored a whole spectrum of issues because it was full of “embedded journalists” who were working on the establishment’s agenda. Imtiaz Alam, the president of SAFMA, said he would write to the authorities seeking justice for Manzoor. He said there was a lot of discussion about politicians being held accountable, but there was a real need for the army and intelligence agencies to be made accountable to the people.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 20th, 2010.