January 20th, 2021
In addition to severe criticism of the government’s policies regarding the media industry, the Federal Executive Committee of the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ), also blasted the media owners for their collusion with the government against working journalists. This was highlighted in the conclusionary remarks of their three day consultative meeting held from January 15 to 17, to discuss the deepening media crisis in the country. The meeting was chaired by Shahzada Zulfiqar, president of PFUJ. A copy of the conclusive remarks have been obtained by voicepk.net.
The meeting lambasted the compliance of media owners with the government in “crushing media workers’ rights” through “financial arm twisting” of journalists.
The PFUJ called on the media owners to side with their employees instead of the government to ensure “freedom of the press” in the country, reminding them that without independent journalists the media industry in Pakistan will completely die out.
According to the document released by the PFUJ, some 8000 media workers have lost their jobs as a result of the current media crisis pushing working journalists towards economic strangulation.
Besides, focusing on the financial distress faced by journalists the executive committee also discussed the increasing environment of censorship in the country and strongly criticized the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) government’s “anti-media” policies.
According to the body the current regime is allowing and even “forcing” media regulators like the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA), Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA), and Pakistan Press Council (PPC) to “hound and pressurize” journalists who are critical of the regime.
Moreover, the body also strongly criticized the arbitrary use of the Pakistan Electronic Crimes Act (PECA) to punish journalists terming it an attack on the constitutionally granted freedom of speech and right to information of the citizenry.
The PFUJ called upon the judiciary and the parliament to play a more proactive role in ensuring that an environment of free speech prevails in the country as this freedom is enshrined in article 19 of the constitution of Pakistan.
The FEC also condemned the government’s current advertisement policies calling them anti-media. Per the PFUJ the government has not only exploited its power to give public ads by awarding advertisements to outlets that tow the government’s line but also cutting the advert budget of established media outlets in favor of pro-government digital media portals.
The PFUJ has threatened the government with severe repercussions if it does not discontinue its anti-media and anti-media workers policies. “We are going to launch a nation-wide long march to highlight our issues,” said Shehzada Zulfiqar, President PFUJ, while speaking to voicepk.net. “Consultations are underway to decide the exact date of the grand march but we expect to launch it in the first week of April. We are getting calls from press clubs and media organizations countrywide assuring us of their support. We are planning on launching a march from Karachi and smaller protest camps in all cities of Pakistan. We will announce the detailed plan soon,” says Shehzada Zulfiqar.