Pak Human Rights Commission slams attacks on media over Zardari shoe hurling reports

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Lahore, Aug 10(ANI): The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has condemned Sunday's attacks on the media, including the blocking of transmission of the Karachi-based Geo News.

The transmission of Geo News was blocked and copies of at least two newspapers were burnt overnight in various parts of Pakistan after they reported a shoe attack on President Asif Ali Zardari during his party address in Birmingham.

Some Pakistan People's Party (PPP) leaders and government officials had issued threats and warnings to cable operators across country against continuation of the Geo News transmission.

Newspaper vendors had said that they were robbed of copies of Jang and The News dailies.

In a statement issued by the commission on Monday, HRCP Chairperson Dr Mehdi Hasan said: "HRCP unreservedly condemns the attacks on cable operators' offices in Karachi and other efforts to block broadcasts of a couple of TV news channels, burning of copies of newspapers snatched from vendors and efforts to prevent distribution of newspapers".

"However, the commission cannot, but condemn any form of interference with the media's freedom of expression in as strong words as possible. Besides, such actions are always counterproductive," The Daily Times quoted Dr. Hasan, as saying in a statement.

Dr. Hasan further urged the government to take action against the perpetrators of the attacks.

An unidentified middle-aged man had reportedly hurled his pair of shoes one after another at Zardari during the event at the International Convention Centre in Birmingham.

The shoes missed Zardari and landed close to him.

The shoe-thrower, who has not been identified so far, was arrested and rushed outside the hall by security personnel, but was released later.

Pakistan Information and Broadcasting Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira had denied any such incident taking place during the rally, and reprimanded the media for airing such a report.

"If someone tried to create disturbance while sitting in back of the hall, it was not visible and the news should be condemned rather than airing it as 'breaking news' or portraying it as 'big news'," Kaira said.

Kaira said that no television cameras were allowed inside the convention centre for security reasons. (ANI)

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