The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), the global organisation of journalists representing over 500,000 journalists worldwide, has today expressed concern over the recent governmental clampdown on independent media in Pakistan.
Pakistani authorities took control of the premises FM Radio 103 Lahore on Friday, 12 November, forcing radio staff to suspend transmission. Shafqatullah, FM Radio 103’s station manager said that approximately 25 police raided the station and arrested three staff members: Arshad, Abdul Ghafoor and Nauman, he also said police seized the majority of the radio equipment thus forcing the staff to cease transmission.
The raid was reportedly in response to a complaint registered against the station under the Maintenance of Public Order Law. The raid followed the arrest of two journalists, Farhat Abbas Shah and Afaq Shah from the same radio station on Monday, 8 November. They were arrested for allegedly disrupting the peace and public order by broadcasting provocative material on the Government’s health policy.
FM radio 103 Lahore’s station manager attributes the recent raids and arrests to the station’s broadcasting of news bulletins produced by the BBC’s Urdu language service.
"The Government's attempt to intimidate this organisation is an absolute disgrace," said IFJ President Christopher Warren.
"Democracy is dependent on an independent and free media: this can not happen if media outlets, big or small, suffer harassment and intimidation at the hands of the authorities, “said Warren.
The IFJ is calling on the Punjabi authorities to immediately drop all charges against the arrested journalists and to respect independent and free media in Pakistan.
For further information contact Christopher Warren on +61 411 757 668
The IFJ represents more than 500,000 journalists in over 110 countries