Nov 16, 2006

Sindh: Reporters Boycott Proceedings

Reporters walked out of press gallery to protest “lax” police investigation of murder of journalist, and the ban on transmission of Sindh television channel.

Below is an article published by the Daily Times of Pakistan:

ISLAMABAD: Reporters covering parliament proceedings on Tuesday walked out of the press gallery to protest against “lax” police investigation of journalist Muhammad Ismail Khan’s murder and the unexplained ban on the countrywide transmission of a private television channel.

The reporters walked out from the press gallery soon after the National Assembly session started and ended their boycott a few minutes before NA Speaker Chaudhry Amir Hussain adjourned the session because of a lack of quorum. Federal Law Minister Wasi Zafar and Minister for Kashmir Affairs Tahir Iqbal met the journalists and assured them that the government would speed up Ismail Khan’s murder investigation.

About the countrywide ban on Sindh TV’s transmission, Zafar told the reporters that he would ask the information minister to investigate the matter and tell the house why the channel’s transmission had been suspended. Before the session was adjourned, the PPPP’s Syed Naveed Qamar asked the government to explain why the private channel’s transmission had been suspended for the last few days. The MMA’s Hafiz Hussain Ahmed denounced the government’s claim of freedom of the media and alleged that the transmission had been suspended on the orders of ISPR Director General Maj Gen Shaukat Sultan. Opposition members including Sherry Rehman and Nawab Yousaf Talpur expressed solidarity with the journalists and urged the government to immediately restore the channel’s transmission.

Information Minister Muhammad Ali Durrani said that Sindh TV’s transmission was suspended due to an administrative problem, adding that the channel could not get landing rights. However, he said that the government would take steps to resolve the issue.