ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) has kicked off countrywide campaign against illegal closure of Geo News and hurdles in the way of supply of newspapers’ copies of Jang and The News on Saturday.
On the call of President of PFUJ Afzal Butt, Secretary Khurshid Abassi and Chairman All Pakistan Council of Press Clubs Irshad Ansari demonstrations were held and protest camps were staged outside the press clubs of Islamabad, Lahore, Karachi, Peshawar, Quetta, Gilgit, Muzaffarabad, Hyderabad, Sukkar, Larkana, Dera Ismail Khan, Gujranwala, Shiekhupura, Sargodha, Sialkot, Malkot, Multan, Okara, Abbottabad, Khanewal, Rahimyar Khan, Dera Ghazi Khan, Faisalabad, Sahiwal, Bahawalpur, Kasur, Jhang, Texila, Hassanabdal, Murree, Gujar Khan.
A protest camp was set up outside the Islamabad Press Club under the auspices of Islamabad Union of Journalists and National Press Club against the illegal ban on media which was participated by a large number of journalists of twin cities while a protest rally was also taken out to Super Market. On this occasion the participants raised slogans such as restore Geo News and ARY, ban on media not acceptable and codes of Pemra not acceptable. they also held placards inscribed with different slogans.
President of PFUJ Afzal Butt said the conspiracy to target Geo is meant to weaken and squeeze media which would not be allowed in any shape. He said, “The Pemra which is run by our taxes is busy imposing illegal and unconstitutional sanctions on us.” He said, “The PFUJ had not only carried out struggle by taking to streets but also faced lashes and imprisonments by confronting the dictators for the restoration of democracy. Today the democratic government is busy marring the freedom of expression,” he lamented.
He said those who impose bans should remember that the dictator who tried to impose curbs on November 3, 2007 is wandering today to find shelter for himself.” He said the protest campaign would be continued till the end of curbs on media.
Secretary General PFUJ Khurshid Abassi said that the punishment given by Pemra was over for a long time but despite that the transmissions of Geo News were not fully restored and such kind of tactics are not used in any part of the world.
He said not only that Geo is not fully restored but all channels of Geo family are not shown on their original numbers.
While addressing Chairman All Pakistan Council of Press Clubs Arshad Ansari said that Hamid Mir was attacked on April 19 and at first the unannounced curbs were imposed on Geo News and then through Pemra. He said the newspapers copies of Jang and The News were burnt and vehicles of Jang Group and hawkers who carried Jang and The News copies were attacked.
He said no culprit has been caught in this game since April 19. He said that on the contrary every day was being made tough for Geo. He said in this conspiracy efforts were being made to weaken and gag media and render our journalists unemployed and this would not be tolerated at any cost. He said that they demanded the government, Pemra and other institutions to stop such kind of sanctions and conspiracies forthwith otherwise we would encircle subject everyone to gherao.
President National Press Club Sheryar Khan, General Secretary RIUJ Bilal Dar, and President of RISJA Amir Butt also addressed the participants of the protest camp.
Our Peshawar Bureau adds: Like other parts of the country, the journalist community in the provincial capital staged protest and asked the authorities to lift curbs television channels to avoid more severe agitation by the media persons in the country.
The Khyber Union of Journalists (KhUJ) and Peshawar Press Club set up a protest camp outside the Peshawar Press Club on Saturday. The camp, besides others, was attended by KhUJ president Nisar Mehmood and Peshawar Press Club president Nasir Hussain.
The protesting journalists, carrying placards and banners inscribed with pro-media statements, asked the government to stop using coercive tactics against the media and journalists.
They also said that despite the decision of the Pakistan Electronic Media Regularity Authority (Pemra), the authorities concerned had yet to resume the telecast of banned channels in many areas of the province, while in some areas where the telecast of the channels has even been resumed, the cable operators have put these channels on last numbers and bad reception has marred the quality of the programmes.
They also warned that journalists across the country would be forced to take to the streets if the government did not stop using Pemra for its ulterior motives.
Our Lahore correspondent adds: Journalists at Lahore Press Club set up a protest camp on Saturday to condemn the ban on channels, under the aegis of the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists and Council of Pakistan Press Clubs.
A number of journalists participated in the protest camp to register their condemnation of the authorities concerned for attempts to suppress the freedom of expression and fundamental rights of citizens.
Journalists raised slogans against Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) for victimising TV channels on flimsy charges, depriving viewers and journalists of their fundamental rights.
Speaking at the camp, senior journalists including Anjum Rasheed and Shahbaz Mian warned that attempts to stifle the voice of media would make the country the worst detention centre and bring a bad name to democracy.
They demanded Pemra evolve clear rules for punishing TV channels and desist from victimisation in the name of blasphemy and defamation of state institutions.