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Pakistani journalists thrashed by political party activists

The fresh wave of violence against media and journalists reached Lahore, the capital city of Punjab province where the activists of a political party thrashed journalists with clubs and iron rods injuring many reporters and cameramen at around 5 pm on August 26, 2013. A protest was held by political party activists against alleged rigging in elections for representatives to a local body.

Ejaz George, a cameraman for Capital TV who suffered an eye injury, told Pakistan Press Foundation that the scuffle started when he asked a party activist to stand to the side and provide him with a clear path for coverage. However, the cameraman said, after the exchange of some harsh words between them the activist, who was carrying a party flag; hit him with the flag's stick. His left eye was seriously injured and began to bleed. Journalists rushed him to the hospital and he is currently in stable condition.

Many other reporters and cameramen also received minor injuries.

A large number of media persons gathered at Faisal Chowk in front of the Punjab Assembly to protest against the behavior of the political party workers and the interruption of media coverage of the protest. They also boycotted the Punjab Assembly proceedings, demanding that strict action be taken against the responsible individuals. The Provincial Law minister immediately expressed solidarity and requested an adjournment of the session till August 27. Speaking on the occasion, he said the violence against the media representatives was "very tragic", as media is an important pillar of society. Those involved in the incident will be dealt with according to the law.

Pervaiz Shaukat, the president of the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ), and Amin Yusuf, the union's general secretary, also condemned the violence by the workers of a political party against journalists and demanded the government take prompt action against the culprits.

Members of the Punjab Union of journalist (PUJ), the Lahore Press Club (LPC) and the Punjab Assembly Press gallery continued their protest demonstration. Arshad Ansari, president of the LPC, expressed his complete support and also announced plans for a protest demonstration outside the assembly at 10am on August 27. Meanwhile, the PUJ put out a protest call for the same day at 3pm at Faisal Chowk.

Subsequently, political party leaders, and opposition leaders in the Punjab Assembly apologised to journalists. Expressing solidarity with them, the party leaders said they would conduct an inquiry into the incident and cancel the party membership of those linked to it.

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