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TV channel's office and satellite van attacked in Karachi

(PPF/IFEX) - March 21, 2012 - Armed motorcyclists opened fire in front of the offices of the Jang Group in Karachi early in the morning of March 20, 2012 and also damaged a satellite van belonging to Geo TV, a news channel of the same media group.

Mr. Faisal Aziz Khan, Geo TV Bureau Chief, told Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF) that the attack by the unknown assailants took place at around 3:30 in the morning. At the time of attack no members of law enforcement agencies were present. Aziz said that the identity of the attackers has not been confirmed but their ultimate motive was to attack the Jang Group's offices. No casualties were reported.

The President of the Council of Pakistan Newspaper Editors (CPNE), Mr. Jameel Athar Qazi, has strongly condemned the incident, calling it an attempt to gag the free press. He demanded that the government ensure that journalists and media organizations are protected. In an emergency meeting on March 20, the Pakistan Broadcasters Association (PBA) also condemned the attack on Jang Group and the disruption of the cable network in some areas of Karachi. It decided to form a sub-committee to take appropriate measures to protect its members from such coercive tactics which interfere with media freedom as enshrined in the Constitution. It also resolved to meet the challenge with full force.

The Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) also strongly condemned the attack on the offices and the satellite van of the Geo TV channel. In a statement, PFUJ President Mr. Pervaiz Shaukat said this brazen attack shows how these elements operate with impunity. He called upon the government to immediately arrest the culprits and award them exemplary punishment. He said such acts cannot obstruct the path of press freedom. "We have sacrificed about 80 lives and achieved this freedom after great struggle. If these elements think that we would be silenced through these tactics, then they are mistaken."

Mr. Fahim Siddiqui, General Secretary of the Karachi Union of Journalists (KUJ), told PPF that they had called a session of the KUJ Executive Council for March 21 to discuss the matter and chalk out their line of action.

According to press reports, some supporters of a political party were behind this anti-media action. They reportedly also forced cable operators to take some channels off the air that they claim were not giving proper coverage to their party's activities. They also threatened the cable operators and severed cable wires in different areas of Karachi.
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