Mithi Press Club: leading by example
By Aroosa Masroor
Karachi: The newly-constructed Mithi Press Club in District Tharparkar has not only changed the lives of local journalists in the area but those of the community it serves. People of the area are now provided a much-needed platform to voice their issues and highlight problems.
Spread over 2,000 sq ft, the construction of the club was completed in April through the efforts of local journalists, who said they wanted to prove a point by using public funds diligently. Local journalists said that they wanted to prove that public funds are not insufficient provided each paisa is utilised honestly.
The Press Club is equipped with a community hall with capacity for 300 people in addition to a guest room, kitchen, dining room, meeting room, computer room with internet facility, separate offices for senior district correspondents and a verandah. The structure cost Rs3.7 million as against the Rs6.2 million estimate given to the government.
During a visit to the club, its president Khatau Jani, also a district correspondent for the Kawish Television Network, told The News how after repeatedly being let down by the Sindh government, journalists in the area sought the help of the district government for the provision of funds. “The foundation of this press club was laid in 1991 when District Tharparkar was separated from Mirpurkhas. We had a single room back then with a few chairs and a table, but felt more needed to be done to facilitate our community and we decided to buy a land,” recalls Jani.
Back in 1992, the land cost them only Rs0.1 million which was provided by the then CM Sindh (late) Syed Abdullah Shah and was registered under the name ‘Mithi Press Club’. Later, during CM Sindh Sardar Ali Mohammad Mahar’s brief tenure from 2002 to 2004, a further Rs0.2 million was given, with the help of which some extra land was purchased and the area expanded.
“We wanted this to be an exemplary structure — a press club that journalists from all over the country would come to visit. That is why we waited for years until we found the right people and had sufficient funds,” says Jani adding that the building has been planned by a renowned architect of the country Arif Hasan. “It was during one of his frequent visits to the district that we formally requested him to help us with the architecture of the building and he readily agreed.”
Locals also said that it was ironic how the Sindh government under former CM Arbab Ghulam Rahim, who belongs to District Tharparkar, did not take much interest in the project compelling them to draw funds from the District Government’s CCB (Citizen Community Board). “They later offered us Rs1 million, but we ended up getting much more financial assistance from the CCB. As they say every thing happens for a reason.”
Since the Press Club recently became functional, the members are not charged for events organised in the community hall nor for the guest room. The idea, said Jani, is to assemble the community members and have a dialogue and spread awareness on various issues of our district. “We don’t want to make it a money-making business,” said Jani adding that their current expenditures are being met through the three shops the press club members purchased (in a small shopping mall adjacent to the club) with the left-over money. “I just believe if your intentions are good and the money you receive is spent honestly, there is nothing that can stand in the way of progress.” The 13 journalists in the district who are behind this project are currently gathering funds for the establishment of a library on the premises.
Source: The News