Resolve issues in three months: PFUJ to govt.

LAHORE -- In a national conference held here on Friday, the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) gave the government three months to sort out the problems faced by journalists countrywide else 'there would be serious consequences'.

The conference was a climax of a campaign 'Enough Is Enough' being run by the PFUJ as a response to retrenchments and threats to journalists.

According to PFUJ, almost 8,000 journalists and media workers had lost their jobs over the past couple of years under arbitrary retrenchments and illegal terminations by media managements in complete violation of the laws that govern contracts and employment. They were even denied their rightful dues. There have been instances when journalists and workers were threatened and abused for raising voices for their rights.

Announcing the final statement of PFUJ, its secretary general Nasir Zaidi said journalists and media had been facing the worst-ever suppression they had seen after the government of dictator Gen Zia. But the PFUJ, he said, had never stood for authoritarianism, and never would.

'Our freedom has been trampled, and our rights have been snatched from us,' he said.

'Media owners and the government have made an unholy alliance and workers are the ones who have suffered as a result. I say this while I stand in Lahore, as Lahore has always been the first city to resist any kind of tyranny, or violation of human rights and rule of law. Lahore will resist again and we will hold seminars all over the country inviting civil society to join us.' He said the final seminar would be held in Islamabad in March.

Mr Zaidi said the government had failed to engage with any talks with the representatives of journalists' associations and there was no framework that could help provide physical, economic and mental security to media workers and if such a framework was not made within three months, there would be nationwide protests, strikes and lockdowns.

Along with Zaidi, other senior journalists were at the panel included I.A. Rehman, Husain Naqi, Shahzada Zulfiqar (also president of PFUJ). Earlier, Abid Saqi from the Punjab Bar Council was there while the panel was later joined by Punjab PPP leader Chaudhry Manzoor.

Zaidi said an 'immediate, formal and structured dialogue on the finalisation of long-overdue legislation for the protection and safety of journalists was integral to prove that the government was committed to giving media its independence and promoting a free...

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