Global Journalists Condemn Military Control of Newsrooms in Pakistan Emergency

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today condemned the imposition of emergency rule in Pakistan warning that the move, which has been accompanied by the armed occupation of public television and closure of private media, would only make the situation in the troubled country worse.

“The elimination of free expression and imposition of censorship will only increase levels of fear, ignorance and rumour,” said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary. “Pakistan will only find peace and stability through respect for the rule of law and the people’s right to know. By putting g troops in the newsrooms, the government seems to have abandoned both.”

The IFJ warning came after reports that government soldiers have been sent into government -run television and radio stations, while private media have been forced off the air.

The Federation says that attempts to control media may be part of official attempts to deflect attention from a Supreme Court judgement which is expected soon on the legality of General Musharraf's re-election victory in October and which some fear is likely to go against the President.

“We shall follow this situation closely and discuss with our colleagues in Pakistan how to protect journalists who are being prevented from doing their normal work,” said White. “The most important objective is to oppose actions that force media to act as instruments of propaganda.”

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The IFJ is the world’s largest journalists’ organisation with more than 600,000 members in 117 countries.