ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari said on Tuesday that his party would stand by journalists and continue to struggle against the injustices being committed by the government.
“Whatever your economic policy, it is the responsibility of the government to provide financial security to the public by ensuring jobs for them,” he said while talking to the media during his visit to a protest camp set up by the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ)-Afzal Butt group outside Parliament House.
Mr Bhutto-Zardari said that as an opposition party the PPP would continue to raise its voice against “non-serious and unjust” policies of the government.
Says govt involved in ‘economic murder’ of media workers; MQM team also visits protest camp
“We request you to support us,” he urged media personnel. “Your issues are our issues — all your issues are our issues. Whenever there has been injustice with media persons, the PPP has stood with them,” he said, recalling his mother Benazir Bhutto’s frequent visits to press clubs and interaction with journalists.
Whenever they faced censorship, Benazir Bhutto extended support to the media, he said. Now the media was facing censorship as well as financial woes, he added.
“The government must provide relief to the people because they [the leadership of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf] have made tall promises of generating 10 million jobs. Not only media persons, but people belonging to other professions have also started suffering due to flawed policies of the government,” the PPP chairman said. “Wherever we go, we meet people protesting against the government.”
He said that even government employees were protesting against the policies of the new government.
“The government does not have to take any major step [to raise funds to provide relief to the people] as they are taking foreign loans. They have even presented a budget but they fail whenever it is a matter of relief for the general public.
“There are various options and several ways [to provide relief to people] but… the government has no intention of taking care of the working and middle classes and protect their interests,” Mr Bilawal-Bhutto said.
He added: “The finance minister only issues statements that he wants to seek input from the opposition [on different issues] but he does not even meet us. They are doing only what they want to do.”
He lambasted the PTI government policies, saying the “flag-bearers of change” had already dropped an ‘inflation bomb’ on the people in the form of a “mini-budget” and were now involved in “economic murder of journalists and media workers”.
He said that the PPP had long-standing relations with the journalist fraternity. “Whenever there has been any injustice in this country, the PPP and the journalists have launched a joint struggle against it whether it was the martial law of General Zia or the military regime of Gen Pervaiz Musharraf,” he added.
A delegation of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P), including MNA Iqbal Muhammad Khan, also visited the protest camp and expressed solidarity with the journalists.
Speaking on the occasion, Afzal Butt, the president of his own faction of the PFUJ, said the objective of the protest was to voice the grievances of the journalist fraternity and not to launch any movement against the government.
He asked the government to intervene and stop “large-scale downsizing” in media houses, which had badly affected the families of the journalists and media workers.
Published in Dawn, October 31st, 2018