ISLAMABAD: Taking notice of the increasing excesses against media persons by lawyers, the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) on Sunday cautioned that if such a trend did not stop, the democratic values and civil liberties would suffer.
In a statement issued here, the PFUJ pointed out that TV crew of a renowned channel was maltreated by a group of lawyers in Lahore. The PFUJ termed the incident as very unfortunate and a black spot on the face of lawyers who are themselves known as “custodians of civilisation.”
Referring to the recent incident in Lahore in which lawyers, without any provocation and justification, attacked the Geo media team, damaged camera and manhandled other members of the team and prevented them from discharging their professional assignments, the PFUJ said it reflects immaturity among lawyers “who are themselves supposed to fight and struggle for rule of law.”
In an act of hooliganism, lawyers tortured a Geo correspondent and Anarkali police station house officer (SHO) on the premises of the district and sessions court on February 25. It is said that Smanabad police arrested two people who happen to be brothers of a woman lawyer in a case.
Assistant Sub-Inspector Akram of the Samanabad police produced before a court where Naeem Anwar Bajwa of Ankarali police and Inspector Zaheer of the Islampra police were also present in connection with different cases.
In the meantime, a group of lawyers attacked the Anarkali police SHO and Islampura police inspector, who had nothing to do with the Samanabad arrests, and thrashed them severely. Lawyers also ripped their uniform, official documents and abused and threatened them with dire consequences.
A Geo team rushed to the spot but the lawyers did not let it cover the incident and instead threatened it and deprived Geo News correspondent Asim Nasir of his card. Lawyers also ripped the camera bag, abused and violently pushed the Geo News correspondent and cameraman.
“By disgracing the professional persons, the lawyers have not only committed a serious offence but also indulged in creating impediments in the working of media,” the PFUJ argued.
The PFUJ regretted that soon after the “joint movement of the democratic lovers, including media persons, civil society and lawyers, the lawyers have now become intolerant and are frequently involved in scuffles with police, media persons and ordinary citizens.”
The PFUJ said the lawyers were undoubtedly one of the state organs and had been in the forefront against dictator General (Retd) Pervez Musharraf and for the independence of judiciary. In some incidents, however, they even physically tortured media persons, police and other people without any rhyme or reason.
“Media played a vital role in the success of lawyers’ movement for restoration of judiciary and now incidents of torture against media persons by lawyers have become order of the day,” the PFUJ asserted.
“The more unfortunate aspect is that despite such a bad trend, senior lawyers, bar associations and bar councils are playing the role of a silent spectator and are yet to take serious notice of such uncalled for and brutal acts on behalf of lawyers which is nothing but classic example of professional misconduct,” it added.
The PFUJ said major concern in the whole episode is that neither the chief justice of Lahore High Court nor of the Supreme Court has taken any notice of such negative and indecent acts of lawyers, thus setting a very bad precedent of “discrimination” and policy of “ignorance” over excesses of lawyers and negation of the constitution of Pakistan which clearly lays down that everyone is equal before the law, irrespective of caste, creed, religion, etc.
“In such a scenario, the PFUJ is justified in demanding that Supreme Court should take notice of lawyers excesses and their conduct to take law into their hands and to ensure an environment conducive for media persons to discharge their professional assignments which is in line with the fundamental rights provided in the constitution for freedom of press and people’s right to know,” it said.