Journalists condemn govt action against Jang Group

By our correspondent

PESHAWAR: Journalists here staged a demonstration on Wednesday to condemn government's action against Jang Group of Publications and vowed to continue their protest to preempt moves at muzzling the press.

In a rare show of unity, journalists from the Khyber Union of Journalists (KhUJ), its Dastoori faction and workers, associated with the newspaper industry, marched from the Peshawar Press Club to the Governor House and presented a memorandum demanding an end to victimisation of the Jang Group.

Meanwhile, the Union appreciated the decision by the Jang Group about abolishing contractual system in the organisation and asked the government to play its role for the same in other newspaper establishments in the country.

KhUJ staged the protest demonstration on the call of Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) and observed black day against the contractual employment in newspaper industry throughout the country. PFUJ's Federal Executive Council (FEC), in its meeting in Karachi last month, had decided to condemn contractual employment and observe a day in this regard during first week of February.

The participants were holding placards and banners inscribed with slogans against attacks on the freedom of the press, victimisation of the Jang Group and harassment and manhandling of the journalists. They also cried similar slogans.

Senior Journalists, Rahimullah Yusufzai, Iftikhar Ali, Qaisar Butt and President Peshawar Press Club, Jehangir Khattak presented the memorandum to a deputy secretary of the Governor's Secretariat.

Later, the participants walked towards the Frontier House on Fort Road and presented a copy of the memorandum to the Special Assistant to the NWFP Chief Minister, Inamullah Khan advocate. Besides journalists and newspapers industry workers, representatives of All Pakistan Akhbar Farosh Association, Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), Aurat Foundation, Shabab-e-Milli, National Organisation of Postal Employees (NOPE), Media Watch on Human Rights and Press Photographers Association etc. participated in the demonstration to express their solidarity with the Jang Group and Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) in their struggle for freedom of the press.

Outside the Frontier House, KhUJ procession turned into a public meeting which was addressed by the KhUJ acting president Jan Afzal, Dastoori Group president, Suhail Qalandar, Peshawar Press Club president, Jehangir Khattak, former vice president, All Pakistan Akhbar Farosh Association, Akhtar Ayub, HRCP, Peshawar coordinator, Tariq Ahmad Khan, Aurat Foundation's Aimal Khattak, Rahimullah Yusufzai and Iftikhar Ali.

Speakers condemned the government for victimising the press by launching vindictive measures against one of the country's largest newspapers group. They regretted that a 20-page newspaper has shrunk down to a dummy publication due to the Ehtesab Bureau's cheap tactics. They added that the EB chief Senator Saifur Rehman had no respect for the Supreme Court decisions according to which Jang Group's newsprint should have been released by now.

They asked Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and EB chief to show the nation the amount of taxes they have paid during the last financial year. They also stressed the need for asking other newspapers, specially those praising the government, about their tax figures which should be made public.

They also condemned the government's one-sided propaganda on electronic media and challenged for an open debate with the group's management on television. "This'll make the things clear," they asserted.

Speakers condemned the harassment of journalists of daily Jang and daily The News and believed that it would bring bad name to the democratic process in the country. They lambasted at Senator Saifur Rehman for asking the Jang Group management to fire the editors and other journalists for their criticism on Nawaz Sharif government policies.

Asking the newspaper industry workers to wage unity among their ranks, speakers said none of the governments have succeeded in gaging the newspapers. Speakers also condemned contractual employment system in the newspaper organisations and asked for the abolition of the same. They appreciated the Jang Group's chief executive Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman for announcing to abolish the contract system in his organisation and asked other newspaper and news agencies to follow the suit.

Through a resolution, the meeting asked the government to obey Supreme Court orders and release the Jang Group's newsprint without any further delay and remove freeze from the bank accounts of the Group.

The News International Pakistan