PFUJ urges CJP, PM to look into media coercion

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) has expressed concern over attempts to gag the print and electronic media through physical intimidation, citing disruption to the distribution of Dawn newspaper and blocking of some news channels on cable network.

The PFUJ appealed to caretaker Prime Minister Nasirul Mulk and Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar to look into the situation.

In a joint statement PFUJ President Afzal Butt and Secretary General Ayub Jan Sarhandi said: “The distribution of Dawn is witnessing daily disruption in cities and towns across the country, particularly in cantonment areas, while hawkers and sales agents are being subjected to harassment, threats, and physical coercion.”

The PFUJ leaders said these actions were against Article 19 of the constitution which guaranteed there “shall be freedom of press”.

“Such actions are denial of the fundamental rights guaranteed under Article 19A, the right of every citizen to have access to information in all matters of public interest.”

They also expressed alarm over reports that an advertising agency which owed large sums of money to certain media firms had been telephonically directed to withhold payment in order to create difficulties.

The PFUJ appealed to the prime minister and the chief justice to direct the authorities concerned to stop coercive steps against Dawn and other media houses.

“We are showing great restraint over these illegal and unconstitutional steps being taken by the authorities to gag the free press in Pakistan,” the statement said.

“If no remedial measures are taken, the PFUJ will be forced to take to the streets.”