close
Advertisement
Can't connect right now! retry

add The News to homescreen

tap to bring up your browser menu and select 'Add to homescreen' to pin the The News web app

Got it!

add The News to homescreen

tap to bring up your browser menu and select 'Add to homescreen' to pin the The News web app

Got it!
 
January 20, 2021

PFUJ to hold long march on Islamabad for workers’ right

National

 
January 20, 2021

LAHORE: The Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) has announced a long march from Quetta to Islamabad in the first week of April to force the government and the media houses owners to fulfil their obligations towards the media workers.

A meeting of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) of the PFUJ was held over three days in Lahore from January 15 to 17 to discuss a detailed agenda of media and workers’ rights and major challenges facing them. The meeting was chaired by PFUJ President Shahzada Zulfiqar.

The journalist body noted that the media workers had been facing financial hardships for last two years, as evidently there had been an anti-worker alliance between the government and the media houses owners. Taking strong exception to worsening crisis of media industry, the FEC reminded the government that the PFUJ, APNS and the PBA had all agreed that the dues would be utilised for the clearance of salaries of journalists and the media workers.

The FEC identified expanding retrenchments, non-payment, delayed payment or cut in salaries of workers, diminishing press freedoms, intensifying censorship and press advice, and growing unholy collaboration between media owners and government actors in depriving media workers of their rights as the main problems facing the media industry and media workers in Pakistan. The FEC reached the conclusion that there is an evident hidden agenda of government to optimally destroy press freedom and crush media workers’ rights in Pakistan in complicity with the media owners through economic strangulation and financial arm-twisting of journalists and crushing of enabling environment for media to flourish. It expressed deep concern at the profound financial hardships and loss of livelihood of journalists that has resulted in loss of jobs to some 8,000 journalists and other media workers, as a direct result of anti-media policies of the government, which is being implemented through owners of the media houses who are now touting and implementing the policy for their own financial and monetary gains by ignoring the basic mission of journalism of press freedom and freedom of speech guaranteed in Article 19 of the Constitution.

The meeting collectively expressed anger and anguish over the deliberate inability of the governing PTI leadership to prevent the federal government and provincial governments of Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan from devising and implementing anti-media, anti-journalism and anti-freedom of expression policies by them. The FEC also criticised the government for allowing and even forcing media regulators including Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA), Pakistan Press Council (PCP) and Pakistan telecom Authority (PTA) to exceed their mandates and use coercive means to hound journalists and pressurise media houses to crush freedom of expression and professional journalism.

The participants expressed dismay at the evident intent of the government to enforce ill-conceived advertisement policies that have ended up completely uprooting the traditional and successful media economic landscape with the result that media houses have lost public sector advertising and journalists have lost jobs and the citizens of Pakistan have lost sources of reliable public interest journalism. The FEC also condemned the increasing tendency of government use the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act (PECA) to target both journalists and citizens in their pursuit of reliable information and professional journalism as a means of expanding the net of censorship, stifling free speech, muting diversity and pluralism of public voices and crushing dissent that are all hallmarks of democracy. It noted that all these measures of the government and its media regulators have resulted in large scale destruction of Pakistan’s professional media industry and thriving regional press and ended in hostile takeover of media by anti-people interests.

The FEC meeting of PFUJ warned of serious repercussions of the anti-media, anti-journalists and anti-media workers policies of government and demanded immediate and complete reversal of such policies for safeguarding press freedom, freedom of expression and right to information so that Pakistan returns to the fold of thriving democracies. They also reminded the owners and managements of media houses that the only way out for the progress and strengthening of media industry is to ensure press freedoms and to protect the rights of journalists and workers without whom the media industry will completely die out.

The meeting called for immediate implementation of the long awaited Eighth Wage Board Award approved and adopted with consensus by all stakeholders of the industry so that its implementation reduces the financial difficulties of the journalists and media workers. The meeting took up the issue of continued and increasing cases of trolling of journalists, TV anchors and particularly women journalists with serious concerns, by troll brigades designed to reduce the space for press freedom which is as per the vision of Father of the Nation Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, who wanted Pakistan to be democratic country and a country with guaranteed human and fundamental rights for all the communities without discrimination of religion, sect, ethnicity, and gender bias. The FEC called upon the parliament and the judiciary to step in and perform their responsibilities of safeguarding freedom of press, freedom of speech and right to information as these are constitutional responsibilities which are being rapidly eroded. Without free media neither the parliament nor judiciary will be able to function for long, it reminded. It demanded complete safety and security of journalists, media workers and regional media outlets in all the provinces, particularly, Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Sindh as without safety of media practitioners, there can be no free media and without free media there cannot be democracy.

It once again urged the government to rationalise advertisement rates and policy as per the growing expenses of running day to day operations of media houses, price hike and inflation due to economic turmoil in the country due to inconsistent policies and pandemic of Covid-19. The meeting contended that approximately Rs 6 billion is pending arrears have been pending with Press Information Department of the Federal Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, and the financial revival of the industry is being prevented because the pending dues are not being cleared and salaries of journalists and media workers are not being restored to the level of pre-crisis period. The PFUJ meeting concluded with demands of ensuring job security for journalists and media workers, freedom of press, freedom of expression without which transparency and good governance cannot be possible and without which democracy and democratic institutions and practices cannot be strengthened in Pakistan.