June 03, 2017
ISLAMABAD – Journalist groups Saturday gathered in Rawalpindi and Islamabad to protest Friday’s attempted kidnapping of Geo Television’s senior correspondent Azaz Syed.
Afzal Butt, President Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) and veteran journalist Nasir Zaidi led a protest at the Rawalpindi Press Club.
Syed Friday escaped a kidnapping attempt by unidentified men in a car and on a motorbike. He was intercepted on Park Road near Bani Gala Police Station. Sensing danger, he sped away towards Taramri Chowk and arrived at the Shahzad Town Police Station.
Zaidi termed the kidnapping attempt as an attack on the press.
“Azaz Syed does bold reporting and reports on terrorism, but some powers do not like such reporting. Journalists would not let any of their colleagues to be attacked. We stand united.”
He said democratic governments were no better than dictators.
“The democratic governments have shut down papers; they jailed journalists. Newspapers were shut down even in Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto’s era,” he said.
Zaidi said the journalists were going through tough times and it was a pity the government was acting as a silent spectator.
In his brief speech on the occasion, Azaz Syed said that journalists had faced such atatcks in the past also and they wouldn’t be deterred by such cowardly acts.
Sheikh Rasheed, leader of the Awami Muslim League said he had told Azaz Syed to be careful in his reporting many times.
In another protest outside the National Press Club, Islamabad, PFUJ Dastoor Group made it clear the journalists would not take such attacks on the press lying down. The protest was led by President Nawaz Raza.
He said they would not leave Azaz Syed alone in this difficult time. “Let this be clear to those who have committed this ugly act that journalist fraternity stands united.”
Journalists Umar Cheema, Mazhar Iqbal, Pervaiz Shaukat and Matiullah Jan made brief speeches as did Azaz Syed.
Syed said this case was not about an individual. “It is an attack on freedom of press.”
He said that this incident would in no way affect his reporting. “I have faced such things in the past and would remain undeterred in the future too.”
The protesters called for immediate arrest of those who attempted to kidnap Syed.
Image courtesy: Matiullah Jan
Pakistan Observer, November 17, 2016