ISLAMABAD - While the upper house of the Parliament on Monday unanimously passed a resolution to condemn the attack on TV anchor Hamid Mir, it vehemently demanded an end to army bashing.
The senators said that while an inquiry into the matter has yet to begin, no one should jump to conclusions at the moment.
PML-Q lawmaker Mushahid Hussain Syed said that ISI and army bashing should be stopped. He requested the government to rise for the defence of the ISI.
MQM lawmaker Tahir Hussain Mashhadi endorsed his remarks while Leader of the Opposition in the Senate Aitzaz Ahsan said though ISI had a chequered history, TV channels should not rush to judgment at the moment.
On a private members day, the house, suspending its entire business, started the debate on the attack on Hamid Mir after the journalists, covering the Parliament, ended the boycott of the proceedings on the assurances given by the leader of the house and the leader of the opposition in the Senate.
Earlier, the journalists, covering the Parliament, had boycotted the house proceedings to condemn the attack on Mir.
The resolution moved by PPP Senator Sehar Kamran, says, “The House strongly condemns the attack on Mir.” It further says the house expressed its deep concern over the series of attacks on media persons and media houses and calls upon the government to take effective security measures for the protection of journalists and media houses.
The house, on the demand of journalists, also formed a five-member committee, headed by Senator Raza Rabbani and comprising Saeed Ghani, Afrasiab Khattak, Rafique Rajwana and Muzaffar Hussain Shah, to look into the threats facing media people and the assurances given by the government to them at different times regarding their protection, compensation and other issues.
However, some political parties, especially JUI-F, strongly criticised the formation of the committee for not giving them representation in the committee.
JUI-F Senator Hafiz Hamdullah remarked, “Is this country only for two parties, PPP and PML-N?” JUI-F and MQM staged a walkout from the house after the Senate deputy chairman, replying to Hamdullah, said it was quite right that there were only two national parties. Before staging the walkout, Hafiz Hamdullah alleged, “It seems the chair is representing PPP.”
Leader of the Opposition in the Senate Aitzaz Ahsan, condemning the attack on Hamid Mir, said, “The attack on Mir has certainly shaken Pakistani society; this has shaken power structures as well.” He demanded the government conduct a transparent investigation.
“But no TV should rush to judgments,” he said, adding ISI had a chequered history as it went into ill-advised Jalalabad Operation, it was found involved in Operation Midnight Jackal and also in Asghar Khan case. “We cannot blame institutions. Blaming an institution before the commission’s inquiry is not good, he said. He questioned how anyone could seek international inquiry in Hamid Mir’s case.
ANP Parliamentary Leader Haji Adeel questioned who was in the knowledge of Mir’s travel plan while senior PPP Senator Farhatullah Babar said the incident provided great opportunity to ISI to clear its name.
“They can prove this allegation wrong,” he said, adding the report of the commission should be made public and if this was not done, some suspicions would arise. He said there should be an institutional mechanism for the protection of journalists and a framework should be formed to take steps for their safety.
Senate Human Rights Committee Chairman Afrasiab Khattak termed the incident an attack on the independence of journalism and freedom of expression. He added the report of the commission should be made public.
Mushahid said it was an attack to stifle the truth and voice and that a systematic pattern had developed to attack journalists. “Nobody should rush to judgment and make it trial of allegations,” he said.
“Apart from the inquiry commission, the government should hold an intra-agency inquiry to trace the culprits,” he proposed. He endorsed Farhatullah that there should be institutional mechanism for the protection of journalists. He also proposed a permanent parliamentary committee to look into the issue of protection of journalists. “Find the culprits whoever they are. I request the government to rise for the defence of ISI,” he concluded.