Press freedom body expresses anguish over jailed Pak scribes

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New York, Nov 21 (UNI) The New York based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), has expressed anguish over the arrest of nearly 200 journalists in Pakistan after the imposition of emergency in the country by its miltary ruler Gen Pervez Musharraf.

''It's time for the Musharraf government to back away from its attempts to control the (news) media,'' said Executive Director of the CPJ Joel Simon yesterday.

Jailing journalists is exactly the wrong tactic at a time when the country needs more, not less media coverage of the events unfolding in Pakistan. It looks like our concern about the mass arrests of journalists has unfortunately come to pass, he added.

Secretary general of the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists Mazhar Abbas was in New York to receive CPJ's annual International Press Freedom Awards at a function held here last night. He said the mass arrest followed the detention of 12 journalists at a demonstration that was marching towards the governor's house in Karachi.

Some of the journalists, who were in jail informed Mr Abbas by phone that they were concerned about the fate of their colleagues who were not accounted for. According to Mr Abbas, six were beaten by police and three suffered head wounds and taken to hospital by an ambulance.

''It seems like the government has declared a war of terror against media,'' Mr Abbas told the CPJ, which is a nonprofit, independent organization set up to safeguard the freedom of news media around the world.

The people arrested today were taking part in our nationwide call for demonstrations against Musharraf's assault on the media. The Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists is calling for mass demonstrations if these journalists are not released, informed Mr Abbas.

UNI

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