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PAKISTAN: PFUJ vows to continue struggle for free press

The Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists elects new leadership and condemns laws aimed against the press and journalists

Dawn
Monday, March 7, 2005

Karachi -- A three-day Biennial Delegates Meeting (BDM) of the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ), which concluded here on Sunday , elected the union's new leadership, and reiterated its pledge to continue the struggle for freedom of the Press and expression and for the cause of the journalist community.

The new office bearers are: Parvez Shaukat, president; Mazhar Abbas, secretary-general; Bilal Thahim and Nawaz Tahir, vice-presidents; Javed Siddiqui and Makdoom Bilal, assistant secretary-general; and Ibrahim Khan, treasurer. Nine members of the federal executive council are: C.R.Shamsi, Fauzia Shahid, Idrees Butt, Amir Raza Khan, Najam-us-Saqib, Shahzada Zulfiqar, Imtiaz Khan Faran, Khurshid Tanweer and Tahir Qayyum.

One of the of resolutions adopted at the BDM demanded abrogation of all black laws aimed against the Press, like the official secret act and defamation law, which have often been used against the Press in general and journalists in particular.

It said that the government often adopts tactic like press advice, ban on government advertisements and pressures from intelligence agencies which negated its claims about the Press being free.

The PFUJ also expressed strong reservations over the proposed Press council and said that the setting up of such a council without giving people the right to know and the freedom of information would only add to the already existing black laws against the press.

Through another resolution, the PFUJ expressed its solidarity with the people of Balochistan and warned the government against any military operation or construction of cantonments in the province. The meeting was of the view that the issue of Balochistan should be resolved by political means.

The meeting condemned the manner in which the case of a lady doctor's rape was handled by the administration. The PFUJ also expressed solidarity with Mukhtar Mai, the victim of a gang-rape, and termed the acquittal of five suspects in the case a 'national tragedy'.

Another resolution demanded immediate implementation of the 7th Wage Board Award, saying there is a national consensus on the issue after unanimous adoption of resolutions in the Senate, the National Assembly and four provincial assemblies.

The meeting criticized the government for not getting the wage award implemented. The meeting also criticized the All Pakistan Newspaper Society for adopting a resolution against the legislatures' support for journalists on the wage award issue.

The meeting appealed to the Chief Justice of Pakistan to take suo motu action against the non-implementation of the Newspapers Employees (Conditions of Services) Act, 1973.

Asia Institute