ISLAMABAD: Journalists from all over the country will stage a coffin wearing protest sit-in and hunger strike in front of the Parliament House after the month of Ramazan to raise their grievances and apathy of the government to resolve them.
The representatives of the journalist community during a seminar here on Wednesday to commemorate senior journalists who struggled for the freedom of press in martial law regime and were lashed on May 13, 1978 vowed that they would not leave the place of the sit-in unless the government accept their demands.
It is pertinent to mention here that for the first time in the Sub-Continent’s history, four journalists — Masoodullah Khan, Iqbal Jafri, Khawar Naeem Hashmi and Nasir Zaidi — received lashings on May 13, 1978 during the martial law regime of General Ziaul Haq.
Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) president Afzal Butt said one hundred journalists would give an affidavit that if their health gets deteriorated during the hunger strike then no one should shift them to hospital as they would prefer to die on the road for the cause of journalists.
“The journalists are carrying out their professional duties in the face of potential threats and economic compulsions because no one including the government is ready to make any serious effort to resolve their problems,” he said.
The PFUJ senior vice president Saleem Shahid said 113 journalists have so far been killed in Pakistan but the media persons are still performing their duties without fear because they want to continue to play their pivotal role in betterment of the society.
Senator Shahi Syed said a number of people were killed on May 12, 2007 and on Wednesday 45 more were killed by the terrorists in Karachi so the people continue to lose their lives due to rising terrorism in the country.
“We criticise Ziaul Haq and Pervez Musharraf but salute our Army because it is rendering great sacrifices to root out terrorism. The terrorists have blown off 250 schools in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa due to which thousands of students have been deprived of their right to education,” he said.
Senator Mukhtar Ajiz Dhamra said he himself did journalism for three years and knew what kind of problems a journalist faces when he raises voice for the rights of the poor and the downtrodden segments of the society.
Senior Journalist Nasir Zaidi said the journalists had given innumerable sacrifices for freedom of expression and they would not tolerate any attempt to mute their voice by the powerful and influential segments of the society.
He said the journalists are facing financial problems but the government has not taken steps to ensure they get all their rights and live an honourable life in return of their services for the society.
Among others who spoke on the occasion included National Press Club (NPC) president Shahryar Khan, RIUJ general secretary Bilal Dar, RIUJ acting president Ishaq Chaudhry, Fouzia Shahid, Qurban Satti, Bakhtzada Yusufzai, Gulzar Khan and Bashir Usmani.