ABBOTTABAD: The Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (Afzal Butt group) has given a nationwide call for protest on Oct 9 against mass-scale retrenchments in the media, non-payment of salaries, unannounced censorship by state institutions, intimidation of journalists by state actors and registration of treason cases against journalists.

The PFUJ, an umbrella organisation of various media unions, took this decision during the second day of its Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting held at the Abbottabad Press Club with Afzal Butt in the chair.

The FEC meeting is being attended by representatives of journalists from across the country to devise a comprehensive strategy for launching a long struggle not only for the economic rights of media workers but also to protect the freedom of expression as enshrined in the Constitution.

“We are facing great threat from state institutions who want to gag the press freedom,” said one speaker at the meeting. “The state institutions are trying to control the media through curtailing their advertisements, hampering the distribution of newspapers and taking off-air those television channels who do not toe their line.” “These state actors are also trying to harass the working journalists through front men or other government departments to initiate cases of treason or register FIR against them under Anti-Terrorism Act,” the FEC observed.

The PFUJ decided to launch a struggle against these state actors and to expose them and their designs. It was decided to form a united Action Committee in collaboration with the CPNE, APNS, PBA, Supreme Court Bar Association, HRCP, civil rights organisations, trade unions and other democratic forces.

The FEC directed all the affiliated unions to mobilise workers across the country for the Oct 9 Protest Day. “This protest on October 9 is a warm-up exercise for the long struggle that the PFUJ is going to launch in the country for the protection of mass-scale retrenchments and to protect press freedom,” said APNS secretary general Ayub Jan Sarhandi at the meeting.

Published in Dawn, September 30th, 2018