Jang Group newsprint released, accounts unfrozen

By our correspondent

ISLAMABAD: Terming the on-going negotiations with the government as encouraging, a spokesman of the Jang Group - Pakistan's largest group of newspapers - said on Tuesday that all controversial matters would be resolved amicably. In a statement issued on the outcome of the government-Jang Group negotiations, the spokesman said that the government had released the newsprint, unfroze six bank accounts and have taken a number of other steps.

He said following a spell of victimisation of the group by the government, Speaker National Assembly Elahi Buksh Soomro invited Chief Executive and Editor-in-Chief of the Jang Group, Mir Shakilur Rehman, which led to start of negotiations between the government and the Jang Group.

Initially, he said, Mir Shakilur Rehman held talks with Law Minister Khalid Anwar, Information Minister Mushahid Hussain and Chairman Ehtesab Bureau Senator Saifur Rehman. He said this initial round of talks paved way for full-scale negotiations between the government team headed by Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif and Mir Shakil some days back.

This round of talks, said the spokesman, proved to be a turning point as Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif along with Minister for Political Affairs Ch Nisar Ali Khan, Khalid Anwar and Mushahid Hussain put the dialogue process right on the track and it helped melting the ice. Senator Saifur Rehman also participated in these negotiations which resulted into addressing the problems.

The breakthrough, said the spokesman, was achieved when Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif acted as a chief negotiator from the government side. "These negotiations will continue to address the remaining problems and the matters the Jang Group has pointed out," said the spokesman In particular, the spokesman lauded historic struggle of journalist community, workers, and different organisations of the newspaper industry, and specially workers of the Jang Group for freedom of press.

"The freedom of press is a continuing struggle, and journalists and newspapers workers will continue to participate in this struggle in future," he said, "All those including workers, labour unions, lawyers, writers, women, social and political parties and figures, who have supported the cause and the struggle for freedom of press are our asset, besides the readers of Jang publications."

He said the Jang Group will continue to provide its readers the best stuff by an independent, objective and balanced reporting and write-ups and will keep its policy free of any pressures from any quarter. He also announced that salaries of the staff would be paid and the Jang newspapers and publications be restored to its fullest capacity very soon.

The unfreezing of the accounts and release of newsprint, said the spokesman, have been welcomed by all and the people have been sending messages showing solidarity with the group. The Jang Group, he said, pays rich tributes and thanks to all those who have stood by it during the period, which was a source of strength for the group.

The News International Pakistan