Journalist insists media protest govt not allowing questions on banned outfit agreement

Mufti Muneebur Rehman says agreement with group leaders achieved for betterment of all involved

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Prominent journalist Fahd Hussain has called upon journalists to speak against the government not fielding questions after a press conference on the topic of Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan’s (TLP’s) talks with the state on Sunday.

Appearing with journalist Waqas Ali on a local news channel, Hussain said that the very word ‘press conference’ denoted an interactive session, in which journalists could ask questions from the government on behalf of the people. This concept, he added, was lost on Pakistani politicians who just gave their speech at the event.

The journalist also urged media fraternity to protest the matter and said that the government’s demeanour defied the premise on which media operated.

Ali also spoke on the matter and said that any previous negotiations on TLP’s matter resulted in the same stance, in which the government would say that there was a balanced agreement, which was achieved to avoid further bloodshed. He furthered that if such was the case, then who was answerable to the families of the martyred policemen, who died in clashes with the TLP. Hussain responded that this was a pertinent question that not just the families, but citizens should ask of the government as well.

Hussain said that if politicians’ refusal to comment was to become the norm, then it would be better if they just called the government TV channels and issued their statements instead of gathering journalists in a press conference.

Hussain had referred to the press conference on Sunday in which the government’s officials apprised the public on the negotiations between TLP leaders and the state in the wake of the banned outfit’s long march to Islamabad. Heading the press conference, Mufti Muneeb ur Rehman told the media that an agreement was reached between the two sides, which was not a single person’s win but a victory for “Islam, patriotism, and protection of human lives”.

Rehman did not elaborate on the agreement and said that details would be publicized at an ‘appropriate time’. Also present at the press conference, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said there would be no question-and-answer session at the end of the presser.