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PFUJ set to honour 70 years of its struggle for press freedom

August 04, 2020

ISLAMABAD: Founded in 1950, the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) has attained the grand age of 70 years on Aug 2 (Sunday) this year. Put differently, the oldest union of its kind in South Asia, possibly all of Asia, will complete on Sunday a full seven decades since the launching of its movement for press freedom in the country. Thepresent leadership of PFUJ will celebrate the occasion in a befitting manner. All the constituent/regional unions and press clubs will start organising seminars, conferences, and rallies throughout August to highlight the PFUJ’s heroic struggle for press freedom, said a press release issued by PFUJ President Shehzada Zulfiqar and Secretary General Nasir Zaidi.

According to the press release, the highlight of the festivities will be a book comprising about 40 chapters written among others by veteran journalists who took part in the PFUJ campaigns for press freedom not just during regimes of military dictators but governments of civilian leaders.

The book, compiled and edited under the guidance of former PFUJ secretary general Mazhar Abbas, has chapters on the torchbearers of PFUJ’s campaigns like MA Shakoor, Asrar Ahmed, Minhaj Barna and Nisar Osmani. It also highlights the national union’s efforts for improving the working and economic conditions of journalists, according to the press release.

It said that notable among the campaigns launched by the PFUJ were those of 1970, 1978 and 2007, during which journalists called strikes, held rallies and demonstrations and even courted arrest. As a result, they were incarcerated and even flogged on the orders of military courts.

On other occasions many of them were sacked by the managements of their organisations. In short they suffered physical hardships as well as economic deprivations.

The press release pointed out that late last year the PFUJ’s leadership had announced that it would celebrate 2020 as the year of press freedom with full commitment towards the union’s unending struggle for freedom of speech and of expression. The aforesaid book would be launched and all future events would be held as part of the above commitment.

“PFUJ played a leading role in defending freedom of expression, economic rights of workers as well as civil liberties throughout the 70 years of its existence,” the press release said. The press release concluded by saying that PFUJ would continue to play its role in mitigating the problems being faced by the journalists. “Today, the journalist community and media workers are facing the worst financial crisis, in addition to censorship and press advice across the country.”