QUETTA - Journalists boycotted Balochistan Assembly’s Tuesday proceedings in protest over the FIR lodged under the anti-terrorism act against a private television.

Led by Balochistan Union of Journalists President Irfan Saeed, the journalists demanded that the case, registered by Quetta police against the television’s bureau chief and top management, be withdrawn.

The demonstration, which was staged in front of the assembly building, was addressed by Quetta Press Club President Razaur Rehman and BUJ President Irfan Saeed.

Meanwhile, on orders from Chief Minister Dr Abdul Malik Baloch, MPAs Mir Khalid Lanvove, Manzoor Kakar and Jan Buledi, spokesperson for the provincial government, talked to the protesters, and assured them that the government had been seriously considering their problems.

“Our government is serious about this matter, and has been trying to resolve it,” they told the journalists who ended their boycott and joined the proceedings after this.

The chief minister told the House he had dropped the case against the television, saying, “The government and its allies believe in dignity of the judiciary and freedom of the press. We will never take such steps that could be harmful for the judiciary and the media.”

Baloch insinuated he was not aware of the issue, and said, “Yesterday when I was heading the cabinet session I received a call from Aitzaz Ahsan who asked me that my government has launched an FIR against a private television under the anti-terrorism act.” He said it was a question for him because being the chief executive of the province he was unaware of it.

The chief minister said he then asked for a copy of Supreme Court’s interim order which, according to him, did not mention any order about an FIR.

He told the House, “During today’s proceedings, the court called the Balochistan government’s spokesperson, Jan Buledi, and asked him about the FIR. Buledi replied the FIR has been launched on court’s order, but the registrar said the court didn’t pass orders for issuance of an FIR.”

“This all happened due to misunderstanding,” the chief minister said as he apologised to the management of the news channel. He also said that an inquiry had been ordered to fix the responsibility.

Baloch however complained that the private television exceeded its freedom by criticising the government without any evidence. He said the television should apologize for their media trial of the provincial government.