“Why haven’t you destroyed the offices of ARY, Samaa yet?”
- Party members attack offices of ARY, Samaa
- Farooq Sattar, Kh Izharul Hassan released by Rangers after interrogation
- This is an attack on freedom of the press, says PM
Violent protests erupted in the Saddar area of Karachi Monday evening when the offices of private TV news channel ARY were attacked, resulting in the death of at least one person, leaving several others injured.
A large gathering of MuttahidaQaumi Movement (MQM) workers allegedly attacked the offices of the news channel situated on top of ‘Zainab Market’ building, a popular clothing market in Karachi.
The attack is allegedly the result of days of incitement through speeches made by the head of MQM, Altaf Hussain. Hussain, who is currently in self-exile in London, had been addressing a gathering of MQM workers in Karachi who were on a hunger strike due to unjust arrest of MQM workers in the city.
A large contingent of both male and female workers marched towards the offices of ARY after allegedly being told so by Altaf Hussain to specifically target the offices of the news channel. In his telephonic address, Altaf asked his listeners “Why are the offices of ARY, SAMAA and GEO still standing if they are not showing my picture?”
After inquiring about the amount of persons available outside the gathering, to which there was a roaring answer of “enough”, he asked them to “go to offices of ARY, Samaa, Rangers office and Sindh government buildings and secretariat and lock them down.” An unknown person on the other end of the phone was heard taking all these instructions diligently.
In a direct threat to DG Rangers Bilal Akbar, the MQM supremo challenged him to “go to his office tomorrow if he has any guts”.
Altaf Hussain has been unable to address such gatherings of his party’s workers of late due to a ban on his speeches to be broadcast on television. He was, however, able to address the gathering as long as it was not broadcast on television.
CCTV cameras captured the violent protesters barge into the offices of the channel after overpowering the security guard. As soon as they entered the premises, they started ransacking the office. Female workers were harassed while male employees were beaten up as well.
As a result of the attack, Rangers forces arrested senior Leaders of MQM from the Karachi Press Club minutes before they were about to start a media briefing. Farooq Sattar and Khawaja Izhaur Hasan were both taken under arrest. Sources said they were questioned by Rangers in order to ascertain the true identity of the attackers. They were subsequently released.
According to reports, Amir Khan, Sajid Ahmed and TV personality Dr Aamir Liaquat were also detained.
There is an ongoing inquiry being done by Scotland Yard in the UK over hate speech by Altaf Hussain. London Metropolitan Police, while talking to a private Pakistani TV channel said that the investigation is underway since march and are still investigating if any laws have been broken.
Almost immediately, COAS Raheel Sharif called DG Rangers Sind Major Bilal Akbar to “arrest all involved” and not to “spare anyone who has tried to burn the city”. DG Rangers was unable to reach the place of incident on time due to the traffics jams cause by the incident. While talking to another private news channel, he said that MQM leaders were arrested for questioning due to evidence suggesting the party’s involvement in the incident.
PM Nawaz Sharif also condemned the attack calling it “an attack on freedom of press and and expression”.
Federal Informtion Minister PervezRasheed met with FarooqSattar at the site of the hunger strike who requested the minister to present their case in front of the PM
Leader of the opposition, Khursheed Shah also met with Farooq Sattar earlier this week in a show of support to MQM, a party that makes up a critical part of the opposition in the National Assembly.
A media frenzy soon followed with ARY channel turning its logo black and white while leaders from other parties, on various late night talk shows, started condemning the attack while MQM leaders defended themselves.