PFUJ slams anti-terrorism cases against journalists by Sindh Police

KARACHI: The Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) has expressed serious concern over registration of cases under the Anti-Terrorism Act against journalists, protesting against the alleged extrajudicial killing of a varsity student, Irfan Jatoi, and condemned the murder of private new channel’s journalist, Ajay Laalwani, both of which happened in Sukkur.

The PFUJ termed the registration of Anti-Terrorism Act cases against journalists, writers and political workers protesting against the alleged extrajudicial killing of Irfan Jatoi in jurisdiction of Sukkur’s SITE Area Police Station, as unprecedented and uncalled for. They also described it as the failure of the elected government to provide protection to the civil society especially journalists.

The PFUJ President, Shehzada Zulfiqar and Secretary General Nasir Zaidi in a statement said that the Pakistan Peoples Party government which claims to be people friendly has registered cases against protesting members of the civil society demanding the arrest of killers of an innocent student of the Sindh University.

It demanded the Sindh government and the PPP central leadership to look into the situation and direct the IG Sindh to immediately withdraw cases against journalists, writers and political workers and hold impartial inquiry into the student’s murder.

Meanwhile, the PFUJ also strongly condemned the brutal murder of Sukkur based journalist Ajay Laalwani who was shot dead in Sukkur earlier this week. The President PFUJ, Shahzada Zulfiqar, and Secretary, General Nasir Zaidi, while condemning the murder said that brutalities, high handedness and harassment against the journalist community is on a sharp rise in all the provinces, but Sindh where the PPP is ruling since 2008, has failed to take action against crimes against journalists, which is unfortunate and unprecedented. They demanded immediate arrest of the killers of the innocent journalists and demanded stringent security for journalists and media workers in Sindh and other provinces, as it is responsibility of federal and provincial governments to safeguard their lives.

In a related development, the New York city-based-Committee to Protect Journalists condemned Lalwani’s murder and demanded the culprits to be brought to justice. “Police in Sindh province must waste no time in investigating the Lalwani’s killing and apprehending those responsible,” said Steven Butler, CPJ’s Asia program coordinator. “It’s critical that the investigation be led by officers who are able to maintain public confidence, given the long history of tensions between local journalists and the police in Sukkur.” The CPJ considers Pakistan as a deadly country for journalists. In 2020, Pakistan ranked ninth on CPJ’s annual Global Impunity Index with 15 unsolved murders.

Newspaper: The News

PFUJ deplores raid on journalist’s house in Karachi

KARACHI: The Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) has condemned the Sindh government for conducting a raid on the house of journalist Shabbar Aazmi.

“The police raid on the house of bedridden Shabbar Aazmi, who suffered a paralysis attack a few months ago and is wheelchair-bound, is not only highly condemnable but also a shameless act,” said a joint statement issued by Afzal Butt, president of his own faction of PFUJ, and secretary general Ayub Jan Sarhandi.

They said the police raid was led by a man in plain clothes and appeared to be a part of the government’s plan to curb freedom of speech. “This is the second such action in Karachi during the last three days and speaks volumes about ill-intentions of the government,” the statement said.

The two leaders criticised the provincial government for failing to take any action against officials who are conducting such raids to harass the media. “We are surprised that a political party which has always stood for freedom of expression and fought military dictators is now itself allowing such acts in its own province,” Mr Butt and Mr Sarhandi said.

“We call upon Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari to seek an explanation from his party’s government in Sindh over these illegal actions and inform the journalist community about the forces which were behind these acts. “We reiterate that journalists across Pakistan cannot be cowed down by such tactics and that we will defend freedom of expression at all cost,” the joint statement said.

Meanwhile, a statement issued by Karachi police on Monday said they had not singled out Shabbar Aazmi’s house for any action.

Instead, it added, a combing operation of all the houses in a part of Gulistan-i-Jauhar was carried out after the blast in that area last week.

Dawn

PFUJ vows to protect freedom of press

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (Afzal Butt group) on Saturday described Nov 3, 2007 as the darkest day in the country’s history and said on that day former military ruler retired Gen Pervez Musharraf had imposed a state of emergency in violation of the Constitution.

In a statement, PFUJ president Afzal Butt and secretary general Ayub Jan Sirhindi recalled that restrictions were imposed on the electronic media and the judges who refused to take the unconstitutional oath had been detained. The PFUJ launched a movement against those measures. Protest camps set up by the journalists remained in place for several months and due to this struggle TV channels were restored.

“This exemplary struggle is the beacon of light in our history,” Mr Butt said, adding PFUJ was still confronting unannounced censorship and black laws imposed on the press.

The leaders expressed their commitment that the journalists would continue their struggle until the press became completely independent.

The PFUJ said that even today efforts were being made to introduce Pakistan Media Regulatory Authority to impose restriction on the press.

“We will not accept any such law that is intended to gain government control on the press,” Mr Butt said.

“Like the past, PFUJ will not hesitate to offer any sacrifice for freedom of the press,” he said.

Dawn

Journalists, media workers hold rallies against downsizing, curbs

ISLAMABAD: Journalists and media workers held rallies across the country on Tuesday in protest against downsizing, stopping of advertisements and measures aimed at curbing newspapers circulation and TV channels’ transmission in certain areas.

The protest rallies were held on the call of Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ-Afzal Butt group).

In Islamabad, journalists and media workers took out a procession that set off from the National Press Club and ended at a roundabout near the Parliament House. Members of civil society, lawyers, doctors, teachers and labour union leaders joined them to express their solidarity with media houses.

Speaking on the occasion, PFUJ president Afzal Butt demanded that the government break its silence over the issue.

“Instead of imposing curbs on free flow of information and stopping government advertisements, the information ministry should hold owners and managements of TV channels and newspapers accountable who were not paying salary to media staff and some of them even sacking journalists,” he said.

Speaking on the occasion, senior lawyer of Supreme Court Ali Ahmed Kurd expressed his solidarity with journalists and media workers and condemned unannounced curbs placed on media organisations.

He said that free thinking and freedom of expression were basic rights of the people and these rights were must for progress of any society and the nation.

Veteran journalists Nasir Zaidi, Nasir Malik and Nusrat Javed, civil society activist Tahira Abdullah and leaders of several trade unions also addressed the rally.

They said the country’s leading newspapers and TV channels were facing unannounced restrictions, while circulations, distribution and broadcast of some TV channels had been stopped in certain areas of the country.

They also condemned the owners and managements of some media organisations who were not paying salary to their staff in time and said that in some TV channels, anchors and top executives had been hired at hefty salary packages, but salary of low-paid workers was being delayed for two to three months.

Karachi

Dozens of journalists along with human rights activists and political leaders marched from the Karachi Press Club to the Governor House and staged a sit-in to protest against unannounced censorship and layoff of their fraternity members.

The protest march and sit-in, jointly organised by the Karachi Union of Journalists (KUJ) and All-Pakistan News Employees’ Confederation (Apnec), warned the government against any action on the freedom of expression and demanded that the media owners protect economic rights of their employees.

Addressing demonstrators, PFUJ secretary general Ayub Jan Sarhandi said the struggle for freedom of the press and for the rights of working journalists and media workers would continue despite all odds. The struggle, he said, was part of the countrywide campaign of the PFUJ and it would not let anyone usurp democratic rights of the people and ensure economic well-being of journalists and media workers.

Lahore

The PFUJ, Apnec and Punjab Union of Journalists held a protest against downsizing, censorship and non-payment of salary to journalists and media workers.

A number of journalists gathered at the Chairing Cross on the Mall Road and protested against imposition of censorship on media outlets.

The journalists said the censorship was damaging the media industry and resulting in downsizing.

“Hundreds of media workers have already lost their jobs and the government should not force them to take to the streets,” they said.

Punjab Minister for Information Fayyazul Hassan Chohan met the protesting journalists and said the government would contact the owners of media houses for payment of salary to journalists and media workers.

He said the government would stop advertisements to those media organisations which did not pay salary to their workers.

Peshawar

Journalists and media workers started their protest march from the Peshawar Press Club and gathered at Sher Shah Suri Road.

The protest was organised by the Khyber Union of Journalists (KhUJ) on the call of the PFUJ.

KhUJ president Saif-ul-Islam Saifi, Peshawar Press Club president Alamgir Khan, political leaders Sikandar Hayat Khan Sherpao, Maulana Abdul Jalil Jan, advocate Farah advocate Haji Mohammad Afzal and the president of the KP Chamber of Commerce and Industry addressed the participants of the protest.

Speaking on the occasion, leaders of the media community recalled the ordeal faced by journalists and other media workers during the recent militancy when around 115 journalists lost their lives while performing their duties, but successive governments neither launched any investigation into the matter nor arrested the culprits or extended any financial support to mem­bers of the affected families.

Quetta

In Quetta and other parts of Balochistan, hundreds of journalists, editors, media workers and local newspapers’ owners also staged protest rallies.

Members of the Balochistan Union of Journalists, Quetta Press Club and workers of different print and electronic media organisations staged a protest rally outside the Quetta Press Club.

Dawn

Related Story

The Nation : Journalists stage protest over non-payment of salaries

Journalists stage demo for security at workplaces

ISLAMABAD: Various journalist bodies on Monday staged a demonstration here outside the National Press Club (NPC) urging the government to ensure foolproof security at their workplaces.

The protest was held on the call of Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) which was attended by the members of Rawalpindi-Islamabad Union of Journalists (RIUJ), NPC and other journalist bodies.

Condemning the gun attack on the office of a private channel in Lahore, NPC President Shakeel Anjum said the government should immediately take steps for the security of media houses which were under threat from various elements.

He said the media had been playing an important role in the war on terror. He said the journalists had rendered sacrifices in the struggle for freedom of expression and always become target of those elements who did not want a free environment for the media industry.

PFUJ President Afzal Butt said the journalists had always raised voice for the rights of people but now they themselves were not safe at their workplaces. He said the culprits involved in the killing of journalists should be prosecuted.

Meanwhile, the journalist community also staged a protest rally in Lahore. The rally led by Lahore Press Club President Shahbaz Mian started from the Club and concluded in front of the Punjab Assembly building. The participants of the rally demanded the government to ensure protection to the media houses and journalists. They also demanded early arrest of the culprits involved in the firing incident.

The News

Political will needed to protect journalists

ISLAMABAD: Politicians, mediapersons and civil society activists on Tuesday said there was a lack of political will to ensure security for mediapersons.

They were speaking at a consultation arranged by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) to finalise a report on ‘Enhancing security for mediapersons’.

The speakers said targeted killing of mediapersons cannot be stopped unless security agencies were made answerable to parliament. As many as 118 journalists have been killed in different incidents in the country since 2000.

Former senator Afrasiab Khattak said militarisation had increased in society due to which media owners and anchorpersons talked like warlords.

“I have seen a report on Omer Cheema, which is with the human rights committee of the Senate. There are circumstantial evidences about the involvement of security agencies (in his torture),” he said.

Senior journalist M. Ziauddin said he did not think the government would do anything to ensure security for journalists.

“Moreover, it is the responsibility of the media house owners to ensure security of journalists. There should be some conditions for issuing licences to the media houses to ensure safety standards.”

He said the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) remained divided and there was also tension among media houses. “Rivalry among media houses is good but it should not become an enmity,” he added.

Journalist Hamid Mir said even big media houses were being dictated and 70 to 80 per cent of their contents were compromised.

“Some journalists have left their jobs because they could not bear the pressure. As many as 11 journalists from the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) have shifted to Islamabad but no one is ready to take up their issue,” he claimed.

“The inquiry report on Omer Cheema could not be made public. On the other hand, both the government and the establishment want to suppress the media,” Mr Mir said, adding legislation should be done to make security agencies answerable to the parliament.

Rights activist Fatima Atif said in talk shows, genuine people were not invited and the programmes were conducted under some special agendas.

“Some journalists also try to exaggerate the threats for publicity,” she alleged.

PFUJ president Afzal Butt said civil society showed solidarity with journalists when media houses received threats or were attacked but it never expressed solidarity when journalists demanded their rights from media house owners.

“In a majority of media houses, even basic human rights are not implemented. A media house sacked a woman journalist after she sought maternity leave,” he said.

HRCP joint director Najamuddin said the concerns of journalists and media owners were different.

Zafarullah Khan, who wrote the report, said laws were made but never implemented. He said funds allocated for Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) should be spent on the welfare of journalists.

“There should also be a check on media houses as there is a big mismatch between expenses and taxes they pay. I prepared a report on the differences between the taxes and the expenses of media houses but no one published it. Some parts of the report regarding the BOL group were, however, published,” he said.

Mr Zafarullah told Dawn that the report on the security of mediapersons was about the last five years.

“The recommendations will be incorporated in the report within a week after which it will be distributed among parliamentarians,” he said.

Some recommendations asked the government to work in collaboration with organisations that were dedicated to the cause of security of journalists and media houses.

It added that the National Commission for Human Rights should play a proactive role for the rights of journalists. The judicial commission set up to investigate the attack on Hamid Mir should make its findings public. The Supreme Court was urged to ensure that the findings of various judicial commissions were implemented.

Political parties should train their workers and activists to respect the role and value of a free and independent media.

“Pemra charges exuberant licence, annual renewal fees and 5-7 per cent of annual gross advertisement revenues from satellite televisions and FM radios. It should establish an institute to train media professionals on issues of safety and security besides contributing towards the journalist safety fund,” it was suggested.

Dawn

Journalists stage protest sit-in outside Parliament House

ISLAMABAD: The journalists staged a protest sit-in in front of the Parliament House on Tuesday against non-provision of security to the media houses with the government officials pledging the comprehensive arrangements would be made to ensure foolproof security of the journalists in their workplaces.

The protest sit-in, staged on the call of Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ), was attended by the members of various journalists associations including Rawalpindi Islamabad Union of Journalists (RIUJ) and National Press Club (NPC).

Among others Minister for Information and Broadcasting Pervaiz Rashid, Opposition Leader in National Assembly Syed Khurshid Ahmad Shah, former federal minister Qamar Zaman Kaira, former Balochistan chief minister Nawab Ghous Bux Barozai, Secretary Information Saba Mohsin and Principal Information Officer Rao Tehseen were also present on the occasion to show solidarity with the journalists.

Addressing the participants of the protest sit-in, Pervaiz Rashid said all demands of the journalists had been accepted by the government to provide foolproof security to the media houses. “The representatives of the journalists associations and the government officials will hold a meeting soon in which the modalities will be sorted out to furnish security plan for the media houses,” he said.

The minister said that now everyone supported the slogan “Attack on one, is attack on all’ because the government, the security institutions and the media were united against the terrorists who wanted to destabilise Pakistan. He said that media had been playing an important role in war on terror and a number of journalists even sacrificed their lives in the line of duty.

Syed Khurshid Ahmad Shah said that the government should immediately take steps for security of the media houses and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) would stand with the journalists who are under threat from various elements. He said that the media had been playing an important role in war on terror and “I must salute to the services of the journalists who are pursuing their professional duties in the face of fear and threats.”

Qamar Zaman Kaira said that the journalists rendered sacrifices in the struggle for freedom of expression and always became target of those elements who did not want free and secure environment for the media industry.

PFUJ president Afzal Butt said unfortunately the time had come when the journalists who raised voice for the rights of the people were themselves not safe in their media houses. He said: “The culprits involved in murders of the journalists were not prosecuted due to which number of attacks on the media persons increased dramatically in the country.”

He said since year 2000, 111 journalists and media workers had lost their lives in the line of duty and statistically a journalist had died every 48 days in Pakistan for the past 15 years.

RIUJ President Ali Raza Alvi said the journalists were being attacked across the country and the government was playing the role of a silent spectator instead of taking measures for the security of the media houses.

RIUJ General Secretary Bilal Dar said that the media persons never ever compromised on their professional work and they were still fulfilling their duties in the face of grave threats.

NPC President Shahrayar Khan said that the government always made pledges for the security of the journalists but no steps were taken in this respect, adding “If the government will not fulfill its promises then we will again stage protest sit-in.”

NPC General Secretary Tariq Chaudhry said that the attacks on the media houses should also be a matter of concern for the government because it was its prime responsibility to provide security to the media houses.

The News