Cutting through the bullshit.

Saturday, 9 June 2007

A symbol of freedom

After a harrowing ordeal at the hands of his captors, civil rights campaigner Syed Mohammad Iqbal Kazmi was released yesterday morning.

Dawn reports

Mr Kazmi said that two men tortured him during this period and quizzed him about his association with Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf chief Imran Khan…They also asked him to disclose the names of his supporters. He claimed his captors used to throw cold water on him to force him to stay awake.

“They burnt the sensitive parts of my body with cigarettes and pressed my fingers with stones,” he said.

[Dawn photo]

Mr Kazmi said that his captors threatened him with death if he did not disclose the names of those who had asked him to file the petition. He said his cellphone containing photo clips of the May 12 incidents, Rs12,000 in cash, a telephone directory and other documents were taken from him.

He said that one of the men -- whom the others referred to as ‘sahib’ – talked to him in a much more civilised manner. He said the man grilled him and asked him to withdraw the petition.

His captors forced him to sign blank papers, drugged him, and left him on the side of he road.

He said that he would neither surrender nor leave Karachi even at the cost of his and his family’s lives.

His wife, Sadia Kazmi, also said that the family would not leave Karachi and would face whatever happened.

Meanwhile, Information and Broadcasting Minister Mohammad Ali Durrani,

…claimed that the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory (Amendment) Ordinance…was actually meant to counter “some incidents of terrorism and extremism” rather than block the airing of criticism of the government.

…he rejected the charges that a curtailment of media freedom was intended and said the present government was credited with making Pakistan what claimed to be “a symbol (of press freedom) not only in the Islamic world but the whole world”.

The minister blamed recent interruptions of the programmes of some leading private television channels to technical problems…

And yet, Dawn’s Raja Asghar reports

The government used its numerical superiority in the National Assembly on Friday to block a debate on new media curbs…

The opposition parties had sought the debate on the restrictions and higher penalties ordered for the private electronic media through a presidential ordinance and instructions issued by the Pakistan Electronic Media Regularity Authority (Pemra) as well as alleged harassment of journalists mainly for their coverage of events relating to the prevailing judicial crisis in the country.

‘A symbol of press freedom’, Durrani said, not a respecter, implementer, or defender of press freedom.

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