Catholic Church condemns attacks on media in Karachi

Political activists were incited to invade media houses and trash their property leaving one person shot dead.

Aug 24, 2016

KARACHI: The Catholic Church in Pakistan has condemned attacks on media houses and journalists in the southern city of Karachi.

Scores of protestors belonging to Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), the largest and most influential political party in Karachi, stormed the offices of ARY News, SAMAA TV and Neo TV, leading to clashes that killed one person and left many others wounded.

TV footage circulated on social media showed that MQM's London-based chief, Altaf Hussain, known for his hardline views, ordered his supporters via telephone to go to SAMAA and ARY News and then protest at the Pakistan Rangers headquarters, shouting anti-Pakistan slogans.

Up until then the MQM members had been staging a hunger strike at Karachi Press Club to protest against "atrocities and injustices" — including extra judicial killings — committed against the party under the guise of stamping out crime.

Father Saleh Diego, director of the Pakistani Catholic bishops' National Commission for Justice and Peace, strongly condemned the violence and called it an assault on the freedom of press and expression.

"The Catholic Church stands in solidarity with the journalist community and calls on the authorities to bring the perpetrators to justice," Father Saleh Diego said.

"A common Pakistan cannot tolerate hate speech against the country, let alone its armed forces," he said. "We were expecting an ugly situation in the city but thanks be to God that normalcy was restored quickly."

"There is no justification for ransacking vehicles and news offices," he said. "There could have been other ways for dialogue.

Hours after Altaf Hussain's speech and the office invasions, the Sindh government ordered a crackdown on MQM.

Several MQM leaders were detained overnight and the party's offices were sealed across the province.

"The law shall take its course against all those involved in making provocative speeches against the state of Pakistan and attacking media houses," Maula Bux Chandio, a government spokesman, told media.

In a press statement, Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif said that MQM supporters will be held accountable for each and every word uttered against Pakistan. "Pakistan is our home and we know how to protect its sanctity," Sharif


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