Government blocks committee against journalists’ ordeal
ISLAMABAD: Instructed by Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz, the government on Thursday withdrew a motion to form a special committee to investigate the manhandling of journalists by police on May 3.
Dr Sher Afgan Niazi, the parliamentary affairs minister, told the National Assembly that the leader of the house (the prime minister) had directed the treasury benches to withdraw support the committee.
The recent move was made just a day after Pakistan Muslim League leaders Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain and Mushahid Hussain Sayed condemned the police atrocities and promised to provide justice to journalists. Pakistan People’s Party Parliamentarians leader Makhdoom Amin Faheem briefed reporters about assembly proceedings because the journalists had boycotted the house. The committee was to be formed by Speaker Chaudhry Amir Hussain after the house passed a unanimous resolution on May 3 demanding probe into the manhandling and the arrest of the journalists.
The parliamentary affairs minister claimed that the government was withdrawing the motion because the journalists had breached the privilege of parliament. Opposition parties condemned the government’s decision to withdraw the motion, saying a unanimous resolution could not be withdrawn by a simple majority.
The speaker was also surprise by the government’s move. He said that he should have been informed by the government before withdrawing the motion. According to some opposition members, the speaker accepted the withdrawal saying it was within the ambit of NA rules.
Meanwhile, journalists continued their boycott and didn’t cover NA proceedings. It was for the first time in Pakistan’s history that journalists continued their boycott for a third consecutive day. Wearing black armbands and holding placards, the journalists staged a sit-in in front of Parliament House.
A few opposition members visited journalists outside Parliament House. The speaker and federal ministers went past in their luxurious official cars without even giving a look at the protesting journalists. A number of treasury members including Riaz Hussain Pirzada and Giyan Singh demanded an immediate end to the government-journalists row. They demanded the real culprits of the May 3 incident be taken to the task. They asked the government to ensure due compensation to the journalists.
PLML-N’s Nisar Ali Khan said the government had earlier told the parliamentary leaders of opposition parties that the special committee would consist of 12 members.