Clamping emergency by Musharraf opened ways towards freedom of media
ISLAMABAD, Nov 3 :- The Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) on the third anniversary of the emergency imposed by former President Pervez Musharraf has said that it is a matter of satisfaction that the nation is enjoying full freedom of the media.
But the entire country is facing the affects of terrorism, intolerance, corruption, and a sea of problems which are an outcome of the dictatorial rule in the country.
In a statement issued here on Wednesday, PFUJ said that three years ago a dictator in the presence of so-called and handpicked civilian government, had sacked 60 judges and banned private television channels and FM radios and had imposed emergency as he was afraid of the growing independence of judiciary and media and wanted to curb both the pillars of the state.
The PFUJ reminded that on Nov. 3, 2007 the dictator had after leveling verbal allegations of PEMRA rules and without any formal inquiry or show cause notice or providing an opportunity of self defence to the channels, arbitrarily imposed restrictions on broadcasting and telecasting were imposed unilaterally.
The PFUJ pointed out that media in Pakistan had remained chained for over five decade, and had faced the worst kind of censorship especially under the military rules. And while in the past, successive military and civilian regimes had banned some of the newspapers and magazines, on Nov 3 2007 for the first time, all private channels were banned. The dictator clamped down on the freedom of expression, but could not deter the PFUJ's march for freedom.
Such resistance from working journalists is rare and unprecedented in this region. There were no protest demonstrations in India when the former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi imposed emergency. Similarly, there was no resistance in Bangladesh against media restrictions. Journalists in Nepal however, created history by joining hands with political forces and succeeded despite suppression.
The PFUJ said it was very unfortunate that democracy was not allowed to function for more than 35 years out of 63 years since the creation of this country. Even by and large in the civilian rule too the major players of the foreign, financial policy makers were men in uniforms and had not allowed the elected governments to translate their promises as per their commitments with the masses with an objective to undermine the prestige of civilian governments, with full support of the "judiciary, bureaucracy and handpicked media groups".
It was only working journalists who always opposed the black laws and challenged the wrath of the Martial Laws and laid countless sacrifices, including loss of jobs, and pang of lashes.
Again it is a pride of the PFUJ that it never welcomed clamping of martial law in the country, and never held negotiations with dictators while the media owners always sided with the dictators and got numerous benefits.
The PFUJ said that credit went to the present parliament which for first time in history had not validated the Martial law enforced on Nov 3, which is a clear cut indication that the parliament is no more under the shadows of guns, and intends to retain its sovereignty and supremacy as per aspirations of the masses and wisdom of the framers of the 1973 Constitution.
The PFUJ further said that the present government had repealed the two amended Ordinances of Nov 3 against the media, and so far there have been no major complaints regarding squeezing of freedom of the media. No press advises or notices to TV channels have been issued by PEMRA.
However, the government has so far not addressed the core issues of newspaper employees, ensuring fair wages, security of jobs, life and constitution of the 8th Wage Board. At the same time so called claims of the judicial activism stands belly when the judiciary against all cannons of justice, in league with the media owners virtually made ineffective the 7th Wage Board Award which was supposed to be operative with effect from Ist July 2000 by issuing successive one sided restraint orders and the same position still persists, subjecting the media persons to survive in torture chamber of on account of extremely meager wages fixed on the basis price index of July 1996.
The PFUJ said that at present although the entire nation was under war like situation because of the terrorists attacks while the media persons were under pressure because of financial terrorism resorted to by the media owners.
The PFUJ urged the government as well the lovers of democracy, civil society and Chief Justice of Pakistan to save the media persons from total collapse in the wake of non implementation of labour laws, fair wages, job security, safety, and legitimate rights
Shamsul Islam Naz
PAKISTAN FEDERAL UNION OF JOURNALISTS
Cellular +92(0)300 8665523