SUKKUR: The Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) has urged Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif to act positively to fulfill his commitment made in his inaugural speech in the National Assembly to resolve problems, being faced by the journalists’ fraternity.
In a statement on Friday, PFUJ President Shahzada Zulfiqar, Vice-President Lala Asad Pathan and Secretary General Nasir Zaidi have emphasised the newly-elected prime minister to take concrete measures for the revival of the media industry, which has been floundering due to the vindictive policies of ousted prime minister Imran Khan’s government, under which various laws and regulations were massively manipulated for gagging media and suppress freedom of expression and freedom of the press.
“Coercive censorship, persistent press advice, draconian proposals like Pakistan Media Development Authority and mala fide provisions like Section-6 of the Federal Journalists’ Protection Bill are examples of how the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s government continued to conspire against the democracy and media freedoms,” they said.
“Constitutional guarantees of the freedom of expression and right to information are supreme and have overriding effect on all laws, therefore, the PFUJ demands immediate reversal of the PTI’s policies of intimidation, and to undo all mala fide provisions in media-related laws and regulations,” the PFUJ leadership demanded.
“The previous government withheld advertisements of a number of the media outlets, forcing them to retrench workers, downsize journalists and substantial reduce in their salaries and emoluments.
The pandemic added financial hardships to the media houses, prompting them to make late payments to their workers or close offices or bureaus altogether without paying dues to media employees,” the PFUJ leaders said.
They said massive unemployment among the media persons have not only rendered them financially desperate, quit journalism, become vendors, and even force to tragic suicides, but also impact on media freedoms.
“Taking advantage of the situation, the media houses did not implement the 8th Wage Board Award besides refusing to make pending payments that resulted thousands of media workers were still removed from their jobs without their dues being paid.
This situation may change if the journalists, journalism and the democracy will be saved,” they said. “All pending payments to the media houses, including those audited under the previous Pakistan Muslim League-N’s government, must be released immediately,” they requested.
“We call upon Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif to urgently convene a meeting with the representative associations of media owners, media managers and media workers, as well as the relevant government departments to sort out the adverse issues being faced by the industry,” the journalists’ leaders said.