Govt denies impression of ‘harassing’ journalists

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ISLAMABAD: After Supreme Court took suo motu notice of alleged harassment of journalists by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), the caretaker government on Sunday dispelled the impression of “any campaign” against the media persons in backdrop of malicious campaign targeted towards superior judiciary, ARY News reported.

Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Qazi Faez Isa, a day earlier, took suo motu notice of the alleged harassment of journalists by Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) against the backdrop of an alleged malicious campaign targeted towards superior judiciary.

The chief justice also constituted a three-judge SC bench that will take up the matter on Monday. The bench headed by the CJP comprises Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar and Justice Musarrat Hilali.

Addressing a press conference today, Murtaza Solangi dispelled the impression that government was running any campaign to harass journalists.

He detailed that a Joint Investigation Team (JIT) was constituted to check malicious campaign against judiciary and character assassination of judges. “So far only notices have been served under the law and neither any case was registered nor was any person picked up,” he added.

He said around 600 social media accounts were investigated, whereas around hundred inquiries were registered and notices were serviced to one hundred and ten people.

Murtaza Solangi further said that around 20 of the social media accounts were operated by political workers or politicians, while 32 were run by journalists.

The caretaker minister said there should be a difference between criticism and mudslinging and character assassination.  “Article 19 of the Constitution does not provide indefinite freedom of expression and there are reasonable restrictions in this regard”, he added.

Read More: JIT constituted to probe campaign against judiciary

He also urged journalists and social media activists to keep their criticism within the limits of civility and avoid disrespect of institutions.

Referring to slanderous campaign against judiciary unleashed on social media, the minister said what happed in last few days does not fall in the ambit of the freedom of expression.

Murtaza Solangi said a substantial decline was witnessed in the smear campaign against the judiciary and its judges after the constitution of the JIT.

It is pertinent to mention here that the Federal Investigation Authority (FIA) sprang into action over the malicious anti-judiciary campaign and issued notices to 65 individuals including 47 people from mainstream media and social media.

The hearing regarding these notices will be held on January 30 and 31. The FIA action against these individuals shows the severity and seriousness of this crime.

Moreover, the FIA warned against spreading misinformation about the Chief Justice of Pakistan and other institutes.

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