ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) becomes the oldest union of its kind in South Asia, possibly in all of Asia, as the 70th anniversary of the union’s foundation was observed on Sunday (August 2).

The PFUJ was established in 1950 as a movement for press freedom in the country and the current leadership of the PFUJ has decided to celebrate the occasion in a befitting manner.

“All the constituent/regional unions and press clubs will start organising seminars, conferences and rallies throughout August to highlight the PFUJ’s heroic struggle for press freedom,” said a press release of the PFUJ.

The press release issued by PFUJ president Shehzada Zulfiqar and secretary general Nasir Zaidi highlighted programmes to be held to mark the occasion.

Among other festivities there will be a book comprising about 40 chapters written among others by veteran journalists who had taken part in PFUJ campaigns for press freedom not just during regimes of military dictators, but also during civilian governments.

The book, compiled and edited under the guidance of former PFUJ secretary general Mazhar Abbas, has chapters on the torchbearers of PFUJ’s campaigns, like M.A. Shakoor, Asrar Ahmed, Minhaj Barna and Nisar Osmani.

It also highlights the national union’s efforts for improving the working and economic conditions of journalists, according to the handout.

It said that notable among the campaigns launched by the PFUJ were those of 1970, 1978 and 2007, during which journalists called strikes, held rallies and demonstrations and even courted arrest, as a result, they were incarcerated and even flogged on the orders of military courts.

“On other occasions many of them were sacked by the managements of their organisations, in short they suffered physical hardships as well as economic deprivations,” the release added.

The press release pointed out that late last year the PFUJ’s leadership had announced that it would celebrate 2020 as the year of press freedom with full commitment towards the union’s unending struggle for freedom of speech and of expression.

“PFUJ played a leading role in defending freedom of expression, economic rights of workers as well as civil liberties throughout the 70 years of its existence,” the press release said.

The PFUJ has announced it will continue to play its role in mitigating the problems being faced by journalists, adding that currently the journalist community and media workers were facing the worst financial crisis, in addition to censorship and press advice across the country.

Published in Dawn, August 5th, 2020

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