CHI - Provincial Information Minister Shazia Marri has strongly dispelled the impression that SNF head Mumtaz Bhutto's arrest was part of any political vendetta.
"Pakistan People's Party led government strongly believes in freedom of expression and does not believe any political victimisation. Case has been registered against him for his involvement in attack on a Sindhi language newspaper "Awami Awaz."
Addressing a Press conference held on Sunday committee room of Sindh Information Department, she observed that PPP-led coalition government in Sindh has strongly believe in the freedom of expression and no body would be allowed to attack newspapers and television channels.
"Bhutto's arrest is a clear message to all those elements who want to control the freedom of an independent media in Pakistan and if we had tolerated a single case than all those elements will get encouragement and more media bodies would be attacked. So to stop such attacks in future, government came forward and had ensured his arrest," she said.
A couple of days ago, some armed people attacked a Sindhi language newspaper Awami Awaz and had made the newspaper staff hostage and issued serious threats. Newspaper management lodged FIR against SNF leadership and police has arrested SNF chairman Mumtaz Bhutto.
Marri also rejected the news that government has lodged operation against SNF throughout the province and SNF workers are being arrested. "There is information that in different cities and towns some armed men are busy in firing and forcing citizens to shutdown their shops, so police is arresting only those involved in such incidents."
To a query, she said that there was no other charge present against him. When she was asked that the case be actually registered on three SNF activists then why Mumtaz Bhutto was arrested, she said that the activists were innocents and the leader had ordered them. So, if the government arrested only the workers, then again there were chances that he would manage more attacks on newspapers and channels. Quoting All Pakistan Newspapers Association (APNS), she said that after the attack APNS severely reacted and strongly demanded to lodge criminal case against Mumtaz Bhutto and to ensure strict action against him for attacking a newspaper office. Beside APNS demand, she said, several other media bodies demanded for such action after which government has taken such move. When she was asked that President House had directed the provincial government to arrest Mumtaz Bhutto, she said that after knowing the details of newspaper attack, President House directed that violence against media must not be tolerated.
She said that after the incident government had provided foolproof security to the newspaper staffers, publisher and management.
When she was asked that government has not initiated such strict action when journalists are attacked and journalists' organisations demanded for justice as it happened with Azeem Laghari, a journalist who killed in Dadu, she said that such assumptions are not valid and anyone would violate the law he would be treated in same way.
When she was asked that after Bhutto's arrest, nationalists would get irritated in the province, she said: "I don't believe that Mumtaz Bhutto is a nationalist because when he was chief minister Sindh there were controversial decisions including the unfair distribution in National Finance Commission (NFC) Award but he did nothing for his province."