M A I N   N E W S

Mush Blows Cold & Hot
TV gag goes but newsmen banned from entering Parliament in Pak

Islamabad, June 7
Opening yet another front of confrontation with the media, Pakistani authorities today banned the entry of journalists to its Parliament, hours after suspending implementation of an ordinance imposing sweeping curbs on TV channels, till a committee submitted a review report on it.

The ban came a day after journalists protested in the press galleries of the National Assembly against the ordinance which empowered officials to seal premises and seize the equipment of private channels. The journalists also protested against the registration of cases against some 250 scribes.

There were reports of a scuffle which started when members of the official media did not join the independent journalists in the boycott of the proceedings of the National Assembly.

When journalists arrived at the main gate of the National Assembly today, they were told that they could not enter the parliament building as ordered by the Speaker of the National Assembly.

The journalists protested against the ban and described the government’s action as a move to create hurdles in performing their professional duties.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Sher Afghan Niazi said criminal proceedings should be launched against mediapersons involved in yesterday’s incident.

Journalists covering the Parliament said non-journalists were allowed to sit at the press galleries which showed that scribes were divided over press restrictions.

When the reporters started raising anti-government slogans in Parliament, the opposition lawmakers also raised slogans from the National Assembly hall, forcing the Speaker to adjourn the proceedings for 30 minutes.

Following this, the Speaker cancelled all press cards issued to journalists for the budget session. All media groups were asked to nominate two members for Assembly’s reporting.

Media organisations across Pakistan also observed a ‘Black Day’ wearing black bands, while thousands of journalists staged demonstrations in major cities, including Lahore.

An official announcement, however, said the implementation of the ordinance promulgated by President Pervez Musharraf was being put off till a six-member committee reviewed its contents and submitted its report.

It was decided that all options of the PEMRA Amendment Ordinance would be reviewed in totality by the six-member committee. — PTI



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