MQM holds protest, rejects Amnesty report

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KARACHI: The Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM) staged a protest demonstration in front of Karachi Press Club on Thursday to condemn a report of Amnesty International which cited the party as a threat to journalists. A large number of people including women attended the protest and chanted slogans against the rights group. Addressing the protesters, deputy convener of MQM’s Rabita Committee Dr Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui termed the report as biased and a conspiracy against the party and its chief Altaf Hussain.  He said that many such conspiracies to dismantle MQM were foiled in the past also. “Those dreaming to damage MQM could not succeed in their evil designs,” he added.

The AI earlier this month warned that journalists in Pakistan were “under siege,” living with the constant threat of violence from agencies, armed groups such as the Taliban and even political parties.

The group in a report said that the authorities had “almost completely failed” to stem attacks on the media or hold those responsible to account.

The report said journalists face threats from a host of sources including the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), the Pakistani Taliban, al Qaeda-linked groups, ethnic Baloch rebels, Lashkar-i-Jhangvi militants and the Muttahida Qaumi Movement.

Siddiqui said Altaf Hussain was the representative of 98 per cent poor masses of the country, adding that people of Karachi would react strongly if any harm was done to the MQM chief.

He said they have presented their case in the court of masses and they would continue to fight for the rights of poor and dispossessed.

Other speakers, including MQM’s senior leader Haider Abbas Rizvi also condemned the Amnesty International in strong words. Later, the protestors dispersed peacefully.

According to Amnesty, since the restoration of democratic rule in Pakistan in 2008, at least 34 journalists have been killed because of their work, but the culprits have been brought to justice in only one of those cases.

The AI report further said the journalist death toll is only one part of a broader picture in which reporters have been threatened, abducted or tortured for their work.