Protecting journalists: PM forms panel to assess media threats

Protests held across the country to show support and solidarity with Express Media Group.


Agencies/our Correspondent January 19, 2014
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. PHOTO: REUTERS

ISLAMABAD/ KARACHI:


A day after the deadly attack on Express Media Group workers, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif formed a two-member committee on Saturday to immediately contact media houses and assess the security threats they face.


He directed the committee to present ‘workable solutions’ as soon as possible to quell the security fears of media groups, according to a statement released on Saturday.

The committee comprises Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar and Information and Broadcasting Minister Pervaiz Rashid.

Journalists, media outlets and civil society members held protests across the country to show support and solidarity with Express Media Group. Protesters, including politicians, called for unity during these testing times.

Separately, the information minister, speaking to Express News, said militancy was an issue for all Pakistanis and not just the media, as educational institutions and places of religious worship were also not safe.

The minister said the attack on the media group’s staffers was ‘a tragic incident’.

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He visited Express Media Group’s offices in Lahore to demonstrate his solidarity “as a representative of the government and as a Pakistani.” “These people were performing their professional duties. They were not among the policymakers or those responsible for drone attacks in Pakistan.” “How were they, who have left behind mourning families, at fault?” he asked.

The prime minister has instructed him and the interior minister to hold meetings with media organisations to discuss ways and means to protect journalists.

Pervaiz Rashid appealed to the perpetrators to spare journalists, schools and places of worship. “We have to take the nation along on the issue. There has been a consensus among political parties for holding peace talks. The option is not exhausted and efforts continue in this direction,” the minister emphasised.

“We will request [PTI chief] Imran Khan and [JI ameer] Munawar Hassan to convince these people to stop playing with the lives of those who have nothing to do with the matter.”

Police investigation

Though police investigators failed to arrest those involved in the previous two attacks on Express Media Group’s offices, this time around they claimed to have some major clues. “We have also held a meeting with the investigators who were probing into the previous attacks as well. They have some information,” said Karachi District West police chief Javed Odho while talking to The Express Tribune.

“We also have got some leads that could help us in arresting the perpetrators but we cannot share them with you right now.”

Late in the night, police registered an FIR on behalf of the state against four unidentified suspects.


Published in The Express Tribune, January 19th, 2014.

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