Journalists, civil society activists protest, demand restoration of Geo News

Demonstrators were joined by various Pakistani-origin political parties as well

Wadood Mushtaq

LONDON: Hundreds of people, including journalists, members of the civil society, activists, and political workers staged a protest here on the weekend to demand Pakistani authorities to restore Geo News and its associated channels.

The demonstration was held in front of the High Commission of Pakistan, in London, with journalists of Pakistan Press Club UK, International Pakistani Journalists Organization, and Pakistan Journalists Association taking part in the protest.

They were joined by various Pakistani-origin political parties as well, including the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), Pak Sarzameen Party (PSP), National Awami Party, and Awami Workers Party.

Leaders of different local organisations, as well as members of the community, were in attendance too.

Holding banners and placards and chanting slogans in favour of all Jang/Geo group channels, the attendees unanimously condemned the restrictions imposed on the transmission of all Jang/Geo group channels and demanded their immediate restoration.

The protest continued for over two hours and the participants later dispersed peacefully.

Addressing the participants, Shoukat Dar, the president of the Pakistan Press Club UK, said people have a constitutional right to information from the media outlet of their choice.

“We are united and will never tolerate these disadvantageous tactics by the authorities,” Dar said, adding that the people of Pakistan and the journalists' community are at the same page and would not accept any kind of dictatorship.

Wajahat Ali Khan and Ghulam Husain Awan, co-secretary-generals of the Pakistan Journalist Association, condemned the restrictions imposed on the transmission of all Jang/Geo group channels and said it was not the first time in the country's history that rulers had used unfair means to restrict free and fair information.

"It’s an old tactic to [curb] the freedom of information; we stand united and will continue the struggle until the restoration of full transmission of Geo network," they said.

The union leaders reiterated their commitment to freedom of the press in Pakistan, stressing that should the concerned authorities fail to take stern action against the culprits, a new way of action will be announced to push for the restoration of all Jang/Geo group channels.

PML-N leaders Shakoor Khan, Nasir Butt, Iqbal Sindhu, Anjum Chaudhry, Begum Nawadar Khan, Imran Saeed, and Saif Ali Khan also condemned the restriction of free and fair information to Pakistanis.

They said media was a fourth pillar of the state and that their party believed in the complete freedom of the press.

Pakistan is in a transitional period of progress, where the people's welfare is of priority, they said, but negative forces did not want to see the nation progress and prosper.

Mohsen Bari, the president of PPP, UK, and Asif Khan, the in-charge of the party's media cell, stated that their party favoured press freedom, which, they said, was an integral part of the developmental process.

Showed their solidarity with media, especially with the Jang/Geo group, they said the imposition of an unannounced ban on any media out was condemnable.

Javed Akhundzada, the secretary-general of Awami National Party, Information Secretary Tahir Aurangzeb, and others noted that Pakistan was progressing fast in terms of economic and social growth and that has primarily come on the back of media.

They said their party would not accept a non-democratic way of action, including, but not limited to, restrictions on the country's media outlets.

PSP London leaders, including Naeem Abbass Khan, Abbas Rana Mahmood, Afzaal Kiyani, Arif Mughal, and others, said the political activists and journalists strive for a better Pakistan.