NA forms body to probe threats to journalist


The National Assembly (NA) on Thursday unanimously resolved to form a bipartisan committee consisting of members from both the treasury and opposition benches headed by the opposition leader or his nominee to probe threatening messages sent to TV anchor Hamid Mir. After nominations by political parties, names of members of the committee would be finalised. Prime Minister Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani also supported formation of a commission to probe the threats. Federal Religious Affairs Minister Syed Khurshid Ahmed Shah moved a motion for formation of the committee, which was passed unanimously. The committee would submit its report within 15 days and federal ministers would be a part of the committee, he added.
Earlier, raising the issue on a point of order, Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) MNA Nadeem Afzal Gondal said that despite a democratic set-up in the country, journalists were receiving life threats for speaking the truth. He expressed concern over threats to Mir and demanded an inquiry by parliament into the matter. Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) MNA Javed Hashmi supported the idea and said that it was a very important issue, as such incidents earned a bad name for the country. Several journalists lost their lives in the recent past but no inquiry was conducted, he added. Hashmi demanded the government to ensure safety of Mir and his family.
Opposition Leader Chaudhry Nisar Ali said that the opposition had raised the issue several times in the House. He said that if the government had probed into maltreatment against journalist Umar Cheema and culprits involved in that incident had been taken to task, this incident would not have been happened. Nisar said that the media was an important tool of an independent parliament to convey its messages to the public.
He agreed to the proposal of Khurshid that the opposition should accept chairmanship of the proposed committee to probe threats to Mir. The opposition leader said that some nine months ago, he had also received threats and after investigation by the Punjab government, it was revealed that some people of intelligence agencies were involved in it.
Khurshid agreed with the notion of Nisar and said that it was regrettable that in a democratic and parliamentary system, journalists were being harassed and threatened for speaking the truth, he added. PPP MNA Syed Samsam Bokhari also voiced concern and said that journalists were receiving threatening messages. He said if parliamentarians did not support journalists in this hour, it would mean that they were not supporting democracy.
Federal minister Riaz Hussain Pirzada also demanded that those people behind the matter be brought to justice. MQM’s Abdul Qadir Khanzada also condemned the incident. PPP MNA Khattumal Jeevan said that MPs from minorities were also receiving threatening messages and being asked to resign or be prepared to face the music.