Islamabad, June 24 (PPF/OurVoice): Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF) condemns the behavior of federal Finance Minister Ishaq Dar toward reporter Shahid Qureshi while he was asking the federal minister questions. It is the right of a journalist to ask Dar questions and inquire about key issues regarding the economic situation of Pakistan. It is completely unacceptable for the finance minister to manhandle the journalist and slap him in response to his question.
As a sitting minister and a senior member of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) party, Dar must respect the rights and safety of journalists instead of being a threat to journalists. We remind the federal minister of the rights of journalists guaranteed under the Constitution and the right to life and protection against ill-treatment guaranteed under the Protection of Journalists and Media Professionals Act, 2021, added PPF in a statement after the incident.
Medie reports show, on June 22, Ausaf Broadcasting News (ABN) reporter Shahid Qureshi was asking the finance minister questions regarding Pakistan’s deal with the International Monetary Fund as he exited the Parliament House in Islamabad. In an incident caught on video, Qureshi asked why they were not successful, Dar claimed that people like the reporter were “in the system.” Qureshi responded by saying that he was not “in the system” and only asked questions. Dar turned around and appeared to slap the reporter while asking what he wanted.
Speaking to PPF, Qureshi said that the matter had not yet been resolved. According to Qureshi, Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) President Afzal Butt and National Press Club Islamabad President Anwar Raza had taken him to Dar’s office to resolve the matter, however, he said the finance minister had behaved rudely and not apologized.
He noted that all the journalists’ bodies had called a protest outside the National Press Club in the capital and neither he nor the finance minister had apologized for the incident.
The Parliamentary Reporters Association had strongly condemned Dar’s treatment of the reporter and demanded an apology from the finance minister. They reminded the federal minister that if he does not apologize they reserve the right to walk out of the National Assembly budget session and to stage a parliamentary protest. They urged the National Assembly speaker to take notice of the incident.
The Rawalpindi Islamabad Union of Journalists (RIUJ) also condemned the incident. In a statement, RIUJ President Abid Abbasi and other duty-bearers said that if Dar did not want to answer the question he could have said “no comment”.