RE-If Punjab Assembly members made history on Friday last by passing an anti-media resolution, the parliamentary reporters also created history by their complete boycott of assemblys Monday sitting, which was unique in the sense that it took place without any media gaze in an unusual way.
This was perhaps for the first time in the history of Punjab Assembly that no reporter turned up in the Press Gallery to cover assembly proceedings following a decision by representative bodies of journalists to boycott assembly proceedings till acceptance of their demands.
In the past, it had been the practice that media would only have recourse to partial boycott of assembly proceedings to lodge protest over some issue, but a complete boycott of the entire-day proceedings was something unusual which happened on Monday. The day was also exceptional from another aspect too. No parliamentary reporter even entered the assembly premises what to talk of the Press Gallery. They, however, remained present for few hours outside the assembly building along with office bearers of Press Gallery Committee, Lahore Press Club, Punjab Union of Journalists and All Pakistan Newspaper Employees Confederation to be part of the protest demonstration. The journalists chanted slogans against the government, especially the PML-N leadership, which, in their view masterminded the anti-media campaign from the platform of Punjab Assembly. The journalist leaders in their speeches termed it a well thought out and planned move on the part of parliamentarians, many of whom had run short of patience due to media coverage of fake degrees of some of their colleagues.
When the session started on Monday, Speaker, Rana Muhammad Iqbal sent Deputy Speaker, Rana Mashhood Ahmad, Punjab Senior Minister, Raja Riaz, Punjab Law Minister, Rana Sana Ullah Khan and MMAs Parliamentary leader, Ali Haider Noor Niazi to hold parleys with media representatives, but they refused to talk to them till acceptance of their demands. Earlier, Leader of the Opposition, Ch Zaheeruddin Ahmad along with other party legislators also tried to talk to the protesting media persons, but he too got a cold response from them.
It may be mentioned here that as per decision of the media organisations, they would not hold dialogue with the government over the issue unless the notorious Punjab Assembly resolution is withdrawn and the anti-media speeches by legislators are expunged from assembly proceedings.
The media persons staged a sit-in for quite some time outside the assembly and also set ablaze copies of the resolution. It was general consensus among the media persons that Sanaullah Mastikhail, who had moved the resolution in the House, was being made a scapegoat to divert attention from those who were actually behind the anti-media move. Meanwhile, there are reports that Mastikhail has refused to tender resignation as per demand of his partys leadership. He has reportedly threatened to expose the man on whose instigation he moved the resolution if he is pressed any further to resign from his assembly seat. In a perfunctory effort, the PML-N had also decided on Sunday to serve a show cause notice on Mastikhail, but even this could not be done till filing of this report. The media would continue its boycott of the assembly proceedings on Tuesday (today).