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Media teams attacked while covering protest demonstrations in Pakistan

Imran Khan, cricketer-turned-politician and chairman of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) political party, gestures while speaking to his supporters during an anti-government rally in Karachi, 12 December 2014
Imran Khan, cricketer-turned-politician and chairman of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) political party, gestures while speaking to his supporters during an anti-government rally in Karachi, 12 December 2014

REUTERS/Akhtar Soomro

This statement was originally published on pakistanpressfoundation.org on 17 December 2014.

On December 15, 2014, in the city of Lahore, the capital of Punjab, Pakistan's largest province, activists of the opposition political party, Pakistan Tehrik Insaf (PTI), attacked and harassed a media team of the private television channel Geo News as it was covering their protest demonstration, and prevented them from reporting. Earlier, PTI workers had harassed reporters from the same news channel in the cities of Faisalabad and Karachi.

The ARY News channel also complained that workers of the ruling political party, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), hurled rotten eggs at their Digital Satellite News Gathering (DSNG) van while they were covering the PTI protest in Lahore.

Geo TV said that the protesters attacked their anchorperson Sana Mirza, Sohail Warraich, reporters Jawad Malik, Ameen Hafeez, Ahmed Faraz and cameraman Khwaja Amir with stones, glass projectiles and bottles, besides using slingshots to hurl bricks at them.

PTI workers hurled bottles and harassed reporter Sana Mirza, who is also Joint Secretary of the Karachi Union of Journalists (KUJ), and shouted hostile slogans to the point where she was unable to hold back her tears. They pelted the Geo News van (DSNG) with stones. As a result, reporter Ahmad Faraz and cameraman Khwaja Amir received minor injuries. The protesters also threatened a Geo team at the Liberty Chowk area of Lahore and stopped them from carrying out their coverage.

Earlier, in Karachi on December 12, 2014, when PTI chief Imran Khan finished his speech and left the venue of his protest rally, PTI workers harassed the Geo News team including its female reporters Sidrah Dar, Umaimah Malik, and cameraman Zubair Memon from Abb Takk television. They threw stones and empty bottles at the Geo News (DSNG) van. They also threw sticks and empty bottles and stones at the senior analyst, Mazhar Abbas, and other Geo News staff. They also harassed a female reporter, Sidrah, and used abusive language against her.

In Faisalabad on December 8, 2014, PTI activists also abused Geo News anchorperson Maria Memon, reporters Irfanullah and Hammad Ahmad and threw sticks at them when they were covering their protest rally. Their DSNG van was damaged in this attack. Infuriated PTI workers also wrote provocative slogans on their van with spray guns.

KUJ President GM Jamali, Secretary-General Wajid Raza Isfahani andVice-President Zaheer Ahmed Khan condemned the attack on KUJ Joint Secretary Sana Mirza and Geo reporter Amin Hafeez in Lahore. The President of one faction of Pakistan Federal Union of journalists (PFUJ) Rana Azeem, Secretary General Amin Yousuf strongly condemned the attack and demanded to stop this malpractice.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
What other IFEX members are saying
  • IFJ condemns political cadre rampage against reporters in Pakistan

    The PFUJ said: "It is unfortunate behaviour extended to journalists. It is shameful that PTI workers attacked female journalists. Abusive language was used to harass journalists during the coverage."

  • IFJ urges Imran Khan to call for end to attacks on media

    Listing a few recent incidents of harassments and attacks on journalists, the IFJ has asked Khan to offer an unconditional public apology and to cease making statements that are further inflaming the attacks.



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