LONDON: Two leading unions of Pakistani journalists in the UK – Pakistan Press Club UK (PPCUK) and Pakistan Journalists Association (PJA) have called on Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) leadership in Pakistan to publicly condemn and expel three activists who were involved in attacking a senior Pakistani journalist as well as others during a PTI demonstration outside Hasan Nawaz Sharif’s flat here.
Veteran journalist Ahmed Ali Syed, who works for a private television channel from London, was attacked by Tariq Mahmood during the PTI demonstration and extremely vulgar language was used against the journalist as he reported back to his news channel about the estimated number of protestors in the demonstrations. Tariq Mahmood led the attack on Ahmed Ali Syed and later on he was joined by PTI senior PTI activist Faisal Khawaja in congratulating him on abusing the media. But it was Imran Khakwani who started the abusive and threatening language right from the start of the protest. He repeatedly called on this scribe and others to tell him in advance what they will write in their reports about the protest. When told that this is not how journalism is done, he started issuing threats, used threatening language and throughout the protest tried to harass journalists. Senior PTI leader Dr Muhammad Afzal even asked him to leave the protest but Imran Khakwani carried on. Imran Khakwani describes himself as “Chartered accountant, MSC Finance” on his profile.
Media representatives said that PTI events in the UK will not be attended unless the party leadership takes a strict action against the three activists and publicly sanctions them for their actions. They said that it was alarming that the trend of attacking media has reached London which is known for democratic and tolerant values. Media workers agreed that attack on Ahmed Ali Syed was not an isolated incident because there was a pattern of violent behaviour against journalists at political events where the leadership simply “distances” itself from the activists blaming others, refusing to take responsibility. They said that eye-witness account and video footage showed that the attackers had support of their colleagues who shouted abuse at media while the protest organisers looked helpless in reigning into them.
Journalists resolved that in future intolerant and abusive behaviour of no religious or political party will be tolerated and any group involved in harassment of media workers will be boycotted. Journalists said that it will be responsibility of the event organisers to arrange security of media and in the event of an attack on any journalist – whether verbal or physical – the concerned political party will be held responsible.
Those who attended the meeting included senior representatives from Press Club and Journalist Association namely Mobeen Chaudhry, Wajahat Ali Khan, Shaukat Dar, Ahmed Ali Syed, Fayaz Ghaffur, Aamir Ghauri, Wadood Mushtaq, Nasim Siddiqui, Ghulam Hussain Awan, Atta-ul-Haq, Inam Sehgal, Chaudhary Akram Abid, Musarrat Iqbal, Waqar Zaidi and Irfan-ul-Haque.