ISLAMABAD: On a call of the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ), thousands of journalists attended protest rallies across the country where they said they resented the rapidly shrinking of space in the country for freedom of the media and announced that efforts would be launched to correct the situation.

Journalists speaking at the protest demonstrations organised by 13 unions of journalists criticised the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government for what they called adopting “anti-media policies aimed at controlling the media houses”. Such policies would be fought bitterly, they declared.

Protests were organised by the constituent unions of the PFUJ in Karachi, Hyderabad, Sukkur, Quetta, Lahore, Bahawalpur, Rahimyar Khan, Multan, Faisalabad, Gujranwala, Rawalpindi/Islamabad, Abbottabad and Peshawar. Journalists taking part in all the demonstrations called for immediate implementation of the Eighth Wage Award that was adopted with consensus by the representatives of journalists and owners of media houses.

The demonstration organised by the Rawalpindi-Islamabad Union of Journalists (RIUJ) was attended, among others, by politicians, representatives of civil society and senior journalists, who called for concerted efforts for defending press freedom in the country.

Senator Raza Rabbani on the occasion called for the launching of a movement for press freedom without any delay as the government “is bent upon suppressing the media and the voices of dissent”. “The time for compromises has gone, as we have to fight for peoples’ rights, democracy and freedom of the press,” he said.

Addressing a rally in Quetta, PFUJ president Shehzada Zulfiqar called for full and proper recognition of the constitutional rights of the people. “Rights guaranteed in the 1973 Constitution cannot be denied and will be defended at any cost as we are committed to ensuring freedom of the press and media in the country,” he said.

Published in Dawn, October 23rd, 2020

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