WPFD seminar 2007

Mubarakpur (Rural Pakistan) – Democracy and changes in style of governance are prerequisite for press freedom in the country, said regional politicians, journalists and academics in a seminar on ‘State of Press Freedom in Pakistan’ at Press Club Mubarakpur held under the auspices of The Rural Media Network Pakistan(RMNP) on Thursday.

They termed media freedom and independent judiciary essential for democratic functioning of the government.

They expressed concerns over increasing intolerance and violence, which had made journalists vulnerable with murders of six working media-men while 50 others were injured during last year in the country.

The speakers questioned quality and credibility of news and feared that news were being planted by interested parties. They raised doubts about effectiveness of perceived media freedom in the country recently, which was only restricted to expressing opinion while depiction of facts is being resisted by the rulers. They called commercial pressure as major challenge to the press freedom.

President RMNP Ehsan Ahmed Sehar said that journalism was the fourth pillar of democracy but in Pakistan journalists were facing various pressures.

He condemned the killing of journalist Hayatullah Khan. He said that recently Sohail Qalander was kidnapped by some unidentified people for reporting against them.

He said that killings and kidnappings of journalists were increasing. “All journalists organisation are struggling for the freedom of press. The use of violence to pressure journalists is condemnable because access to truth is the fundamental right of people,” he added.

President Press Club AhmedpurEast Shabbir Ahmed said that on the one hand, journalists were facing problems to bring facts to light and on the other they were exploited.

He said that the owners of newspapers should implement the Wage Board Award. He said freedom of expression was indispensable to highlight social evils. “People should help journalists in their fight against social evils,” he added.

Journalists Mazhar Rasheed Missan,Rana Mohd Saleem,Mohd Ashfaq,Sheikh Mohd Akmal,Syed Fida Shah, Ms Sumera Naz Khokhar and others emphasised the need for the international community’s collective efforts to ensure complete freedom of the press globally. They said that since the press plays a vital role in a state, it was imperative for governments to ensure its full freedom, adding that print and electronic media in Pakistan presently had full freedom as compared to the past.

Speakers also bitterly criticised the sanctions imposed on the press in the world, including the Indian-held Jammu & Kashmir state where media was suffering from sanctions imposed by Indian occupation forces. They said no foreign journalist from print or electronic media was allowed by the Indian occupation forces to cover the daily tragedies suffered by Kashmiris because of Indian troops. As many as 120 journalists hailing from rural areas of South Punjab attended this seminar while another 60 persons including politicians and academics were also present on this occasion.A special WPFD issue of Free monthly newsletter Sadiq News was also distributed among the participants while messages of Director General UNESCO Koichiro Mastuura,CEO World Association of Newspapers(WAN)Timothy Balding,Executive Director Commonwealth Journalists Association(CJA)Bryan Cantley,Communication Officer Free Voice Aik Meeuse and Founder Citizems Media Commission Pakistan Javed Jabbar were also read on this occasion.

Source: Nation 6 May 2007

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