Journalists' hunger strike in Pindi, Lahore

By our correspondent

RAWALPINDI: The journalists of Rawalpindi and Islamabad set up a hunger strike camp on Friday outside The News and Jang building to voice protest against the government steps detrimental to the freedom of press.

The camp was attended by Ilyas Shahid, senior vice president of PFUJ (Dastoor), President RIUJ, Zafar Mehmood Malik, President Jang Union Rana Ghulam Qadir, Joint Secretary Masud Abdur Rahim, editor in-charge the daily Jang Rana Tahir Mahmood, Accounts Officer Hamid Ali, senior editorial staff members Farooq Azam, Mahmood Khan, Yasin Sabir, Editor daily Din Farooq Faisal Khan, President Rawalpindi Press Club Nawaz Raza, workers of the newspapers and other human rights activists.

Labour unions of Rawalpindi-Islamabad, traders, social workers and people from cultural and political fora also visited the camp to pledge their all-out support to the Jang Group. Meanwhile, the All Pakistan Newspapers Employees Confederation (APNEC) and Rawalpindi-Islamabad Union of Journalists (RIUJ) have decided to intensify movement against the government pressure on the Jang Group of Newspapers and attack on freedom of press in the country.

As per programme, newsmen and their children will take out a procession here on Murree Road tomorrow (Sunday). A protest march will be held on February 8. On February 12, a seminar will be held on "Press Freedom and State Oppression" while foreign ambassadors will also be apprised of the government pressure on the Jang Group.

A committee for protection of press freedom will be constituted and other journalists organisations will be invited to join the struggle, the two bodies decided. Meanwhile, the token hunger strike continued at Lahore Press Club on the second day on Friday with heightened participation from the journalist community.

Those who took part in the strike yesterday included Suhaib Marghoob (Jang), Farhat Saeed (Pakistan), Tasawwar Raza (Jang), Maqsood Ali Syed and Zara Kazmi of the PPP Cultural Wing, Mohammad Mansha Shaheen of the PPP Labour Bureau, M Tufail (Jang), Wasif Nagi (Jang), Syed Hamid Javed (Aawaz), M P Khan and Shireen Raza (Labour Party), Z A Zaidi and Mrs Zaidi (Bhutto Lovers Pakistan), Mrs Urooj Zaidi and Mrs Zulfiqar, Mirza Liaquat Beg (Jang) and Dr Javed (journalist from Bahawalnagar).

Hundred of journalists gathered at the Lahore Press Club all day long. On the occasion some senior journalists condemned the government for adopting an extreme course for crushing the fourth pillar of the state. They said it was not merely an attempt on a big publishing group, rather it was a bid to harness the freedom of expression.

They feared government aggression against other defiant newspapers in the near future after the Jang Group. They criticised the government, especially Senator Saifur Rahman, for bulldozing its ill-will on a section of press. Those who spoke on the occasion included President Lahore Press Club Saqlain Imam Wasti, Mrs Jugno Mohsin of Friday Times, Rashid Rahman of The Nation and Imtiaz Alam of The News.

The strike will continue on Saturday (today). Those who will join the camp on Saturday include Dr Tanveer, Mian Shams, Hussain Sajjad, Sarmad Saeedy, Naeem Mustafa, Azhar Munir, Nasir Kharal, Asif Bajwa and Usman Bin Ahmad.

February 07, 1999
The News International Pakistan