APNS to approach judiciary for access to information
By Imtiaz Ali
Karachi: The All Pakistan Newspapers Society (APNS) is likely to approach the superior judiciary through the eminent lawyer, Munir A Malik, to get access to information under the Freedom of Information Act.
This was stated in a resolution unanimously passed at the APNS’s condolence reference in memory of MA Zuberi, the founder and editor-in-chief of the Business Recorder, here on Monday.
A separate resolution urging the Executive Committee of the APNS to name its award on economic and business reporting after MA Zuberi was also passed.
The APNS President, Hameed Haroon, said that this would be the first time that a petition was filed urging the superior judiciary to direct the government to give access to information to the media on a host of issues including that of policy on advertisements.
He said the petition would be filed through a leading lawyer who had played a prominent role in the lawyers’ movement and as a mark of respect to MA Zuberi who had been instrumental in the Freedom of Information Act.
Haroon recalled that MA Zuberi, who came to Pakistan on the invitation of the Quaid-e-Azam, Mohammed Ali Jinnah, had been a prominent figure in the movement for the freedom and development of the media in South Asia.
The APNS Secretary-General, Sarmad Ali, said the late MA Zuberi had been an exceptional personality in the media whose death left a void which could not be filled easily.
A former federal information minister, Senator Nisar A. Memon, said Zuberi had played a significant role in removing the restrictions on the media through the draconian laws promulgated by Gen. Ayub Khan, which continued even after his martial law regime.
He recalled that Zuberi considered the institution of free press as vital for strengthening the democratic process in the country, which started during the 1990s.
Referring to his meeting as information minister with MA Zuberi in 1993, Nisar Memon said Zuberi had advocated openness of the federal budget including expenditure on the armed forces.
He believed that the process of ensuring transparency in the defence budget had been started for the first time when it was presented before the Defence Committee of the National Assembly during the tenure of the previous government.
Arshad Zuberi, a son of late MA Zuberi, recalled that his father had “felt strongly for the working journalists”, which was evident from the fact that he had recruited in his newspaper five journalists out of eight whose services had been terminated during the rule of Gen. Zia-ul-Haq.
He pointed out that Zuberi gave paramount importance to education and once said that if an educated person did not practice what they had learnt, then they did not deserve to be called an educated person.
Arshad Zuberi said that for his father, Pakistan’s salvation lied in its economic development. He added that the late Zuberi also advocated liberating the media from their dependence on government ads and strengthening the press.
“We have a lot to learn and a long way to go,” Arshad Zuberi said.
Asif Zuberi, another son of the late Zuberi, recalling his father’s efforts to join the army and founding the first business newspaper in the country in 1965, said that his father had been a sort of an “adventurous person” whose achievements were unbelievable.
Mehmoodul Aziz said Zuberi never bowed to the despotic rulers in the country. He recalled that when a certain government personality tried to persuade the editors and senior journalists not to make any adverse comments during their meeting with Gen. Ayub Khan, Zuberi snubbed him by saying that then there was no need of having a meeting with the military ruler.
Aziz said it reflected the bravery of Zuberi at a time when the press was not allowed to even publish the order of censorship.
He claimed that it was because of MA Zuberi that the late editor of Dawn, Ahmed Ali Khan, started attending the meetings of the CPNE.
Aziz said that it should be made clear that whatever freedoms the media had been enjoying in the country at present were the result of the long and sustained struggle of the journalists.
Mushtaq Qureshi, Qudsia Akhlaq, Awais Aslam Ali, Saeed Khawar, Dr Jabbar Khattak, Ilyas Shakir, S. B. Hassan, Najmul Hasan, Mukhtar Aqil, Tanveer Tahir, Amir Mehmood, Faisal Zahid Malik, Usman Arib, Javed Shamsi, Masood Hamid and Aijazul Haq also spoke on the occasion, terming MA Zuberi an icon who pioneered economic and business media in the country.
Source: The News