Black flags fly atop press clubs as freedom drive launched

Published July 6, 2018
ISLAMABAD: Members of the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists launched a countrywide campaign at the National Press Club on Thursday for press freedom.—Tanveer Shahzad/White Star
ISLAMABAD: Members of the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists launched a countrywide campaign at the National Press Club on Thursday for press freedom.—Tanveer Shahzad/White Star

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) on Thursday launched a countrywide campaign for press freedom and a drive against restrictions being faced by various media houses, particularly Dawn.

The PFUJ kicked off its campaign on Thursday because it was the anniversary of the day in 1977 when martial law was imposed on the country, which led to the unveiling of draconian measures against the media.

As part of the drive for press freedom, PFUJ members hoisted black flags atop buildings of all press clubs and held special events to highlight the brutalities faced by media personnel during the regime of Gen Ziaul Haq. The events also highlighted the restrictions and curbs being faced by the media houses today.

In a statement, the PFUJ called upon the caretaker government and the Election Commission of Pakistan to look into the matter and ensure unhindered distribution of Dawn’s copies.

Journalists taking part in a protest at the National Press Club, Islamabad, said that transparent elections were simply not possible in the absence of a free media. They hoisted a black flag atop the club building to show that media houses were united under the banner of the PFUJ.

On the occasion, senior journalist Mohammad Zia­uddin said that in the last 56 years he had witnessed numerous ways in which news organisations were pressurised so that they would resort to self-censorship.

PFUJ president Afzal Butt said that some elements wanted to divide the media over the issue of their freedom, but they should realise that journalists would remain united as they already knew news organisations would be attacked one by one.

A black flag was also hoisted atop the building of Karachi Press Club (KPC).

Speaking at a protest organised by the Karachi Union of Journalists, PFUJ secretary general Ayub Jan Sarhandi said that since 1977 efforts were being made to suppress the media. But restrictions would not be tolerated.

He said the struggle for freedom of the press would enter its second phase on July 9 as “freedom of press camps” would be established outside the Parliament House in Islamabad and offices of Dawn in Karachi.

KPC president Ahmed Malik on the occasion said that efforts had routinely been made to gag the media but all such designs would fail because the community of journalists remained united.

The journalists of Badin district hoisted black flags atop their media houses and wore black armbands. They held two separate protest meetings, at the Badin Press Club and the Chamber of Journalists. Similar events were held in Lahore, Baha­walpur, Ra­­h­im Yar Khan, Toba Tek Singh, Gujranwala, Multan, Abb­ottabad and Hyderabad, besides other cities and towns.

Published in Dawn, July 06th, 2018

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