Unification Committee explains failure to unite PFUJ | Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Unification Committee explains failure to unite PFUJ

Pakistan Press Foundation

ISLAMABAD: Having finally reached to the conclusion that the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) unification process instead of unifying the two factions, one led by Rana Azeem and the other by Afzal Butt, would only end up further widening the gap between the two, the now defunct PFUJ Unification Committee (UC) dissolved itself on August 27, hours before the scheduled polls for a unified body were to take place.

According to a PFUJ UC statement issued on Tuesday, the two factions while publicly reposing full confidence in the Unification Committee (Mohammad Ziauddin, IA Rehman, Hussain Naqi, Khawar Naeem Hashmi, Shahidur Rahman, Nasir Zaidi and Rahimullah Yusufzai, Habib Khan Ghori and Siddiqu Baloch) and after having signed a settlement document, instead of abiding by the UC’s decisions kept trying to impose their own respective ideas about how to proceed.

The Rana Azeem group displayed its complete no-confidence in the UC by holding elections of its faction of PFUJ in Murree in May this year. The Afzal Butt group instead tried to misuse the UC itself to hold the elections of its own faction of PFUJ in Peshawar by refusing to withdraw the candidatures of Afzal Butt (for president’s post) and Khurshid Abbasi (for Secretary General’s post).

The UC was formed with the specific purpose of unifying the different factions of the PFUJ and it made sincere efforts to accomplish such a challenging task. Its members remained committed to the idea of a strong, united and progressive PFUJ in keeping with its glorious traditions.

The UC acknowledges the KhUJ for accepting its request to hold the BDM at Peshawar on August 25-27 at a short notice and made excellent arrangements for the stay and comfort of the delegates. The hospitality extended to the delegates was in the true spirit of the hospitable nature of the people of Peshawar and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

The BDM proceedings were lively and the discussions were informed and educative. The more than 50 resolutions adopted by the BDM covered the problems and challenges facing the journalists and the Pakistani media and forcefully advocated solutions.

The main reason for the UC’s failure to achieve its objectives was the lack of cooperation from different factions of the PFUJ. The UC members felt the faction leaders were interested more in holding on to their positions rather than unifying and saving PFUJ. The faction led by Rana Azeem and GM Jamali was the first to stop cooperating with the UC by holding its FEC meeting and elections in Murree despite having agreed to wind up the faction and abide by the UC’s decisions. It violated the agreement signed by its representatives reposing trust in the UC and giving it the authority to take forward the unification process.

A small faction headed by Raja Riaz, Shafiq Awan and Shahryar was the next to show no-confidence in the UC when they led a walkout from the BDM of PFUJ in Peshawar on August 26 and boycotted its proceedings.

They chanted provocative slogans against the UC members after having hailed them as their respectable seniors. That some of them tendered public apology for their actions later vindicated the UC’s stand but it was late as the damage had been done, the BDM proceedings disrupted and the opportunity to unify the PFUJ wasted.

The Afzal Butt cooperated with the UC the most but most of its cooperation was cosmetic.As its members dominated the proceedings of the BDM in Peshawar, some of them behaved aggressively and joined the sloganeering against the UC when the latter refused to do their bidding.

Afzal Butt and Khursheed Abbasi, the candidates for President and Secretary General, didn’t heed the UC’s wish not to contest the PFUJ elections for one term in keeping with the findings of the UC’s investigation committee and its recommendation on moral grounds that they should stay away from the polls to put the bitterness of the past behind them and facilitate smooth elections.

The UC wanted a consensus interim set-up, an ad hoc committee or an elected PFUJ in which those responsible for the controversial 2013 elections in Karachi and the subsequent split in the PFUJ shouldn’t be represented.

None of its proposals was accepted. In the end though when the UC was dissolved, the BDM and the Afzal Butt faction agreed to the proposal to constitute an ad hoc committee for an interim period to hold elections for the UJs in January 2017 and for PFUJ in March 2017.

The UC members felt they shouldn’t give legitimacy to one faction of PFUJ by holding the elections during the Peshawar BDM as it would have reinforced the existence of two distinct factions and making it even more difficult to unify them. It was obvious that the Afzal Butt group would win the elections in Peshawar and be tempted to operate as a parallel body of PFUJ as it did following the 2013 polls in Karachi.

By not holding the elections, a clear message was sent to the rival factions that the doors are still open to unify PFUJ and then hold inclusive and credible polls of a united PFUJ.

The UC refused to identify with any one faction of PFUJ and instead opted to stay strictly neutral. It also sent a strong message that it wanted a united and pro-workers PFUJ and not one identified with any media group or the government.

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