Opposition parties asked to respect role of journalists

LAHORE (PR): The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on all sides to respect the role of journalists and media workers covering an anti-government demonstration in Pakistan. Journalists from various news outlets have been attacked while covering the “Freedom March”, says a press release issued Tuesday..

“We note that the organizers of the ‘Freedom March’ have condemned these attacks but they must do more to control their supporters and ensure the safety of journalists covering the protests,” said CPJ Deputy Director Robert Mahoney. “Whatever message demonstrators are trying to convey, it’s unlikely that beating reporters and news crews is going to do the job.”

At least four crew members from a private channel;, were beaten Monday by workers from the opposition Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party while covering a speech by PTI leader Imran Khan during a sit-in in the capital Islamabad, the private news channel reported. The four were treated in hospital for minor injuries, reports said.

In recent days, tens of thousands of demonstrators have participated in the demonstration, which has traveled from Lahore to Islamabad, and was organized by the PTI and the anti-government cleric Tahir-ul-Qadri. The protesters are demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif over allegations of electoral fraud.

Another news channel crew were also harassed at the march by workers who confiscated their footage on Sunday after covering claims that a woman was harassed at the sit-in, according to news reports and tweets by Gharidah Farooqi, a journalist with the private news channel.

In a separate incident, journalist Babar Malik from the private news channel was beaten by Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) supporters on Thursday while covering a rally that PML-N had organized to show solidarity with Sharif, according to reports. Local PML-N leaders Hanif Abbasi and Ziaullah Shah helped rescue Malik, who was bruised but not seriously injured during the attack in the Faizabad area of Rawalpindi. The news channel said he was attacked for having reported on the opposition rally.

Between August 15 and 16, several journalists and media workers from another private TV were also assaulted or harassed while covering the PTI-led rally, according to news reports .

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