LONDON, Jan 26, (APP)-Speakers at a memorial meeting for late noted journalist and trade unionist Minhaj Barna described him as a role model for the journalists and said his struggle for freedom of speech and the rights of workers of newspaper industry would go a long way in the annals of history as an example of unflinching and non compromising commitment.The meeting arranged by the UK-based Pakistan Journalists Association (PJA) was held at the Parliament House Thursday.Pakistan High commissioner to the UK Wajid Shamsul Hasan was the chief guest of the meeting which was presided over by Lord Nazir Ahmed and President PJA Abbas Malik.
The High Commissioner gave account of his long standing association with late Barna who passed away earlier this month in Rawalpindi, saying that he always looked at him as true mentor and learned from him in spirit how to serve and save true journalism and not to make any comprise on the voice of conscience . He said that by following Barna as a role model he was able to take stand as an editor and at times defy the employer. The biggest lesson taught by him was of no compromises, adding that another quality that he taught was to write in a way as to convey message between the lines. “By doing so he was able to send his message across even in the times of worst censorships in the time of former military rulers Ayub Khan and Zia-ul-Haq. Mr. Hasan said keeping her promise Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto fulfilled the long standing demand of the journalists of dissolving National Press Trust (NPT) . The High Commissioner also endorsed the idea of annual event and award in the name of Minhaj Barna and offered assistance from the High Commission in this respect. Lord Ahmed in his address said that brave journalists were targeted everywhere in the world. Barna’s struggle was unique and it is hard to see that kind of struggle these days. It is important to fight for the rights of people at the same keeping ethics of journalism were also important,” he added. The Labour party peer suggested establishing a specialized National College of Journalism in Pakistan to provide guidelines for the journalists in Pakistan through quality training. President PJA Abbas Malik announced initiation of Annual Award and holding of an annual event with a view to keep the principles of Barna alive. Other speakers were Lord Hussain , MP Rehman Chishtie, broadcasters Raza Ali Abidi, Assef Jilani, David Page, Prof. Amin Mughal , Barrister Sibghat Ullah Kadri, ex-Cllr. Mushtaq Lashari , Vice President and General Secretary PJA Tahir Chaudhry and Wajahat Ali Khan respectively. They highlighted various phases of struggle initiated by Barna in the form of a movement beginning from 1949 which he continued till his last breath and stood firm against dictatorships and repressive regimes. His pivotal role in uniting the journalists at the national level by creating the platform of Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists ( PFUJ) and bringing all the employees of newspaper industry under the umbrella of All Pakistan News Papers Employees Council (APNEC) and achieving the establishment of wage boards to protect the economic exploitations of both the journalists and other employees meant institutional reform and revolution for Pakistani journalists in keeping the freedom of expression alive, opined speakers. It was also decided to hold an event on yearly basis and give award in the field of journalism and human rights in the name of Minhaj Barna. At conclusion, Fateha was offered for the departed soul as well as for former BBC Urdu journalist Muhammad Ghayur and Wali Khan Naseer.