IFJ Condemns Pakistan President Over Media Ban

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has

condemned Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari for imposing a ban on the Geo TV

News, accusing him of "intolerable interference" in press freedom which undermines

the reputation of his government.

The IFJ also welcomed the reported resignation of

Information Minister Sherry Rehman in protest at the President's action. "Her

offer to resign shows a degree of principle in a tawdry incident that casts a

shadow over the good name of the governing Pakistan People's Party," said Aidan

White, IFJ General Secretary. "The President is guilty of the most intolerable

interference in press freedom."

Rehman was reported by local media as having resigned

after she failed to convince the President to lift the ban on the telecast of

Geo and Aaj TV channels in major Pakistani cities over their coverage of

protesting lawyers and opposition party opinions. Zardari gave direct orders

for the blocking of the transmission of Geo News.

The IFJ says that Pakistan media are now at the

centre of a struggle for democratic values in the country. The IFJ has strongly

supported its affiliate, the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists, which has

been campaigning for media reform and action to strengthen ethical journalism

across the robust media sector.

"Standards of journalism have to improve, but that

will not happen when government tries to dictate to journalists what is

acceptable," said White. "The government and President Zardari must end hostile

actions against media and keep out of the newsroom"  

An IFJ mission to Pakistan met with Asif Ali Zardari

before his Pakistan People's Party came to power and he promised that in

government there would be no hostile relationship with media which had

characterized the regime of former President Pervez Musharraf.

At an IFJ meeting in Lahore

last year Minister Rehman gave her full support to the PFUJ and IFJ efforts to

strengthen standards in Pakistan

media.

For more information contact the IFJ at +32 2

235 2207

The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in

123 countries worldwide