World press forum slams Zardari for gagging media

March 15th, 2009 - 7:08 pm ICT by IANS  

Brussels, March 15 (IANS) The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has condemned Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari for imposing a ban on certain media organisations, accusing him of “intolerable interference” in press freedom.
The Brussels-based journalists forum has also welcomed the resignation of Pakistan’s Information Minister Sherry Rehman in protest against Zardari’s action, EuAsiaNews reported Sunday.

“Her offer to resign shows a degree of principle in a tawdry incident that casts a shadow over the good name of the governing Pakistan Peoples Party,” said Aidan White, IFJ general secretary.

“The president is guilty of the most intolerable interference in press freedom,” he stressed.

On Friday, the Pakistan government blocked the Geo TV News and Aaj TV, expressing displeasure over their coverage of the current political crisis and the Lawyers’ Long March for restoration of judges sacked by erstwhile military dictator Gen Musharraf.

In a statement, the IFJ said Pakistan media were now at the centre of a struggle for democratic values in the country.

“Standards of journalism have to improve, but that will not happen when the government tries to dictate to journalists what is acceptable,” said White.

“The government and President Zardari must end hostile actions against media and keep out of the newsroom,” he underlined.

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 123 countries worldwide.

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