A day after Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM) lawmakers Mohsin Dawar and Ali Wazir were barred from holding a press conference at the National Press Club (NPC), the press club issued a statement, saying the PTM lawmakers didn’t receive media coverage on Friday as no prior booking had been made for the presser.
In a press release issued on Saturday, the NPC administration noted president Shakeel Qarar arrived at the venue when the press conference wasn’t held and “removed any misconceptions”.
The statement quoted Qarar as saying that “neither any office holder of the National Press Club was behind the [move to] sabotage the PTM press conference, nor was any office holder aware of the whole situation.”
According to Qarar, the PTM had not made any booking at the press club reception, which was why an invitation for press coverage hadn’t been issued.
The NPC’s refusal to provide coverage to PTM-linked lawmakers was condemned by MNAs Mohsin Dawar and Ali Wazir, who belong to the PTM, and former senators Farhatullah Babar and Afrasiab Khattak.
Dawar tweeted on Friday that himself and fellow MNA Wazir, two “elected representatives of Waziristan”, were not allowed to hold a press conference at NPC “despite having a booking”.
“We know who is behind this, but we also wonder whether they know what they are doing to the unity of this federation?” he added.
In a subsequent tweet, Dawar said that Prime Minister Imran Khan “claims to have championed PTM’s demands for the last 15 years” but “today [Friday], in his govt, two MNAs of Waziristan were denied their already reserved slot at Islamabad Press Club.”
“The optics of this should be a cause of concern to all the political forces of [Pakistan],” the lawmaker added.
Additionally, PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari on Saturday tweeted that he was “extremely disappointed” that two elected MNAs were allegedly not allowed to hold a press conference at the press club.
“While censorship has reached new heights in ‘Naya Pakistan’, press clubs have always been sanctuaries of free speech even under the worst dictatorship,” the PPP chairman added.