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January 18, 2021

PFUJ to start drive against media crisis from April


January 18, 2021

LAHORE: Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) will start campaign against crisis in media from April.

Unions of journalists, from all over the country, will go to Islamabad and sit before the Parliament until their demands are met. Freedom of media is linked to the supremacy of Parliament and the Constitution. The forces that are for the protection of the state should be doing just that.

PFUJ General Secretary Nasir Zaidi said this while addressing a gathering at a lunch, hosted by PML-N at its secretariat in honour of the PFUJ delegates from all over the country, who were in the city for a seminar on freedom of media, the first in a series.

“Pakistan is facing crisis on many fronts because the Constitution is not being followed. We are facing crisis of state at present. So long as the role of the different institutions does not stay within the ambit of the Constitution the country will remain at a disadvantage. Whenever the Constitution has been disregarded, it has led towards disintegration of the country. This crisis of the state has been created by the unholy alliance of the non-elected people and those behind the scenes,” he said.

“Media is facing the worst suppression. New laws are being made and changes are being made in old laws. Press Council of Pakistan, which was independent, may be governed by a general with the amendment in law. Social media rules have also been amended, squeezing any space that was there. Thousands of journalists have lost jobs, had pay cuts. We have only chains to lose but I am confident we will get our rights with consistent struggle,” he concluded.

President PFUJ Shahzada Zulfiqar said, “We want rule of law. We want Article 19 and 19A to be followed in spirit. Article 19 gives media the right to free press and Article 19A gives citizens the right to information. Media is there but it is not free.” He called upon political parties and trade unions to join hands with journalists to defeat suppression.

President Press Club Arshad Ansari announced that caravans of media workers will leave for Islamabad in the first week of April for their just demands. Qamar Zaman, President Punjab Union of Journalists (PUJ), thanked the PML-N leaders and said all the union leaders of PUJ and PFUJ were elected representatives of journalists.

PML-N’s Saira Afzal Tarar, Samiullah Khan and Azma Bokhari also spoke on the occasion and all of them underlined the importance of ensuring that media operates freely at all times.

MAN Saira Afzal Tarar said media has always been the voice of the people. “It has a very important role in giving respect to vote,” she said, adding “This time is worse than Musharraf’s.”

MPA Samiullah Khan questioned, “If political parties make blunders, will they be stopped from politics? Likewise, there can’t be only one version in media. There has to be variety of opinion and for that freedom is a must,” he concluded.

Azma Bokhari said journalists have always been on the forefront, giving direction to the country. “This country is ours. Until we sit together, we cannot solve our problems,” she said.

The Federal Executive Council (FEC) of the PFUJ and National Executive Committee (NEC) of the All Pakistan Newspapers Employees Confederation (APNEC) held a three-day meeting in Lahore, which concluded on Sunday with the resolve to organise NEC.

All organisations were asked to prepare for the PFUJ elections, which will be held on January 31. Karachi Union of Journalists (KUJ) and Rawalpindi Union of Journalists (RUJ) have been asked to hold general council meetings. They will continue to work as they were elected only four months back.

It was decided in the meeting that the long march would start from Quetta between April 2 to 4, from where journalists will march to Karachi.

From Karachi, a larger number of them will leave for a march across the country, stopping at Hyderabad, Sukkur, Multan, Lahore, Lala Musa, Kharian, taking more media workers and like-minded people along and then move on to Islamabad.

The protesters will likely reach the Parliament two days before Ramazan. They will present their demands to the government and will continue to press for them until they are met, said President Punjab Union of Journalists Qamar Zaman Bhatti.