ISLAMABAD: Information Minister Senator Pervaiz Rasheed arrived at the National Press Club (NPC) early Thursday morning, in an attempt to deter journalists from protesting at the launch of the metro bus service, against the closure of Bol News channel before its launch,.
The call for the protest at the metro bus track was made by Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) — Afzal Butt group at 9 am on Thursday.
A large number of media persons, reached the NPC at around 9 am along with their families. The protestors gathered at the press conference hall of NPC where Senator Pervaiz Rasheed arrived at 9:30 am.
President PFUJ Afzal Butt and other speakers including Mushtaq Minhas, who apart from being a founding member of the NPC is also a senior official in Bol News, lashed out against government policies and the dealing of the Bol issue.
“We have seen such issues in the past, but this is a unique case where a democratically elected government has adopted the tactics of dictators,” Afzal Butt said.
He said in the case of Axact and Bol TV it appears that the decision has been handed out before the trial and 2,200 employees of Bol TV are the victims.
“We demand that all accounts that relate to the salaries of Bol TV employees be released before the arrival of Ramazan,” president PFUJ added.
Meanwhile, in his fiery speech Mushtaq Minhas said that this would have been the first case in Pakistan’s history where someone bringing foreign exchange into the country is charged with money laundering.
“At the same time, the government openly advertises that investors will not be asked about the source of money they bring into Pakistan,” he said.
Meanwhile, other speakers including the office bearers of NPC, Rawalpindi Islamabad Union of Journalists (RIUJ) and other unions pointed out that no action is taken in response to news stories which point out the shortcomings of government institutions.
“We will not allow Bol employees to starve in Ramazan,” Ali Raza Alvi, president RIUJ said.
The minister, after patiently listening to the fiery and critical speeches promised that arrangements would be made for existing Bol employees to receive their salaries. He also announced that the 8th Wage Board award would be announced unilaterally by the government if the other party did not respond.
“However, there are certain legal issues regarding the letter to Pemra and we have to consult experts in this regard,” the minister said.
The minister then left the NPC to attend the joint sitting of parliament and later the media persons held a symbolic protest march from the NPC to Super market.
Published in Dawn, June 5th, 2015