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PFUJ Warns Against Censorship From Government Quarters

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) has on Monday warned against censorship by government quarters. In a declaration issued by PFUJ after the three-day convention, the body was of the view that threat to the freedom of the press had ‘assu­med ominous proportions’.

Federal Executive Council of the journalist body met here in Islamabad from July 5-7. The said meeting was presided over by President Afzal Butt along with General secretaries and union representatives from other provinces.

The FEC in its declaration said arm-twisting of media owners had forced them to comply with a dictated editorial policy. The owners are also made to keep a close eye on non-compliant workers and fire them without notice.

The declaration further mentioned what ‘arm twisting’ entails and how it is affecting media workers in particular.

“Arm twisting is resulting in the shape of retrenchments, layoffs, the ruthless firing of media workers and delay in salaries by owners of media outlets in the name of financial constraints, the body observed that these were excuses instead of the reality.”

The body noted how in the recent past media owners have tended to agree to government regulations. The government, on the other hand, does not regulate the media, in fact, ‘controls’ it through the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA).

To acknowledge the curtailing of freedom, PFUJ went on to quote the constitution of Pakistan and how the said censorship violates article 19 of the constitution which guarantees freedom of the press.

“In short, Article 19 of the Constitution is being continuously violated with complete impunity by the very authorities who are constitutionally obliged to safeguard it,” the body added.

It is pertinent mentioning here that after Maryam Nawaz Sharif’s presser and allegation regarding Judge Arshad Malik, various TV channels have been taken off air.

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The said meeting was attended by various print and broadcast journalists including Capital Talk host, Hamid Mir.

Towards the end, the meeting in question presented its set of demands to the government pertaining to the safety and security of journalists and legislation required to do so.

The meeting concluded calling upon the government to ensure freedom of the press, free speech, and expression and to play its constitutional role in strengthening democracy, democratic norms, and democratic institutions in the country.”

The body reiterated its resolve to strive for the rights of media workers and promised to protect the media industry in Pakistan which is essential to ensure governance and transparency.

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