ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) on Thursday decided to launch a decisive movement for security of jobs of journalists and media workers and freedom of expression in 2021.

“Enough is enough. It’s now or never,” PFUJ President Shahzada Zulfikar and Secretary General Nasir Zaidi said in a joint New Year message.

“PFUJ will be launching its struggle with the fullest force on 5th of January for protecting the economic rights of the journalists and for safeguarding freedom of expression in the country,” they said.

The two leaders said the outgoing year was one of the worst years for the media industry as more than 8,000 journalists and media workers lost their jobs across the country.

They said the unholy alliance between the owners of media houses and the government not only deprived the job opportunities but also put the entire media industry in a severe financial crisis.

Several TV channels faced financial losses while a few had to close down. Regional newspapers were also forced to shut down rendering thousands of journalists and media workers jobless. The television channels and newspapers also slapped a salary cut on their employees which has not been restored so far by many media organisations.

Mr Zulfikar and Mr Zaidi also noted that during 2020 media faced worst kind of censorship and advices from the government besides the arrest of Editor-in-Chief of Geo Mir Shakeelur Rehman in a case filed by the National Accountability Bureau.

They also recalled an attack on Dawn by “unknown persons” and termination of Channel 24 and Bol by misusing the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority Ordinance.

The PFUJ leaders said that even now the new rules and regulations were being introduced to gag media and to shrink freedom of expression from the social media.

While praising the heroic services rendered by entire media community during the coronovirus pandemic, they said it was high time to launch a final round of resistance for the economic rights of the media workers as well as press freedom and freedom of expression. “The economic crises facing the industry and freedom of expression are inter-linked and we are determined to fight for both,” they said. “Enough is enough, we are not going to tolerate pay cuts any more nor would tolerate delay in the implementation of the Wage Award for newspaper employees.”

Published in Dawn, January 1st, 2021

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